Are payments a driving force in the evolution in computing?

payments, wearables
Image credit | Cristiano Babini

There are several forces at work that are pushing computing to new levels. Talking about ‘computing’ as a thing already seems old fashioned as it becomes embedded in everything we interact with.

We are about to see a revolution in computing power as quantum computers move from experiments in University Labs to enterprise applications and, in a decade or so, to consumers.

We are beginning to believe the likes of Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg when they talk out loud about hot wiring the brain into a computing environment so that we can stop messing around with inefficient fingers.

Payments are also pushing computing from screens and keyboards to new ranges of input devices. Very recently, Mastercard announced a tie up with Tappy and Timex to extend contactless payments so that your watch (initially) becomes the tokenised payments gateway. From there you can see that, one day, simply waving a hand or blinking an eye would complete the transaction.

Payments are a vital link in all this and, as our guest writer Scott Bales says, it is becoming an ecosystem where the combination of discounts, intelligent loyalty (where the consumer does not have to remember whether he has platinum status with Starbucks, or was it Quantas) will drive the importance of payments.

That, in turn, pushes the evolution of computing and the disappearance of screens and keyboards.

This trend, which Mr Zuckerberg is keenly aware of, will make it all the more frustrating for him that his attempt to knit together a payments ecosystem in the form of Libra is unravelling before his eyes. It is unfortunate that the timing of Libra was off and that the project became public at just the moment when political will was being blown in the opposite direction.

If Libra was launched by a few central banks tomorrow, it would be assured of success.

While Facebook may survive, missing the payments boat will be a body blow and possibly we will remember Libra’s downfall as a turning point in the fortunes of Facebook.

One that its new, grown up logo will be unable to counter.

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