On Saturday I went shopping for food. I went around the shop, got what I needed and joined the queue to pay.
It moved fast, much faster than it did couple of years ago. I started paying attention and noticed two technical innovations that sped up paying: the price scanner and the contactless payment technology.
I have contactless on my debit card; I use it and I love it.
This made me think about the ways in which the ways to pay – and keep our money – have changed over the last couple of centuries.
When I was a child, I used to look at the old fashioned portraits of my great-grandparents and wonder. My great-grandmothers had these heavy necklaces of gold coins: each level of the necklace had different size of coin.
I wondered why. Now, I think these necklaces were my great-grandparents bank accounts – they were valuable, you could use the coins immediately to buy goods and they were easy to grab and run with if someone attacked your home. Of course, there was no question of divorce.
My grandparents had a little paper box in a draw of their sideboard: it was the perfect size to keep money in. I have no idea whether they had a bank account or not. I know that the little box was always full.
My parents had saving accounts; they also had saving accounts for us, their children. We still knew that the cash for the month is in the wardrobe. Having their money in the bank didn’t help my parents much – they lost it all in ‘the great devaluation of the 1990s’. Good thing they invested in our education!
There was a time when I had an account card and my cheque book; when using a credit card meant taking an impression of it on a primitive machine using carbon paper. Now I have debit cards, credit cards, store cards, loyalty cards…Paying means remembering several simple numbers (okay, I’ve been known to forget these so probably not that simple). Recently, I started using contactless payment.
What next, I wonder.
Then I looked around; after all Easter is for rest and I rest best while snooping around the Internet.
It turns out, the world of credit cards is stranger than I thought.
I learned that some people can get:
- a titanium credit card that is recognised around the world and has no credit limit; yes, it is made of titanium;
- a credit card made of solid gold and encrusted with 26 diamonds; it is available to a hundred people in Kazakhstan (Borat eat your heart out);
- a scented credit card (I still can’t figure out what this is good for).
Did you know about these credit cards?
As to the future, it seems to be a mixture of highly sensible and useful features – like added security features and voice control – to highly pointless ones, like having the hologram of a running dog on your card.
See for yourselves!