Plastic cards in your wallet provide access to essential travel products and services, from the access card for a public transportation network to the fuel card to fill up your car at the petrol station. But those cards will soon be a thing of the past. The future is in wearable technology.
Juniper Research projects that by 2021, close to 300 million people worldwide will use mobile devices and/or wearable technology for contactless ticketing. Last year already, over 78 million units of wearable technology were sold around the world. They are used to track health indicators such as heartbeats or footsteps, and streamline the process of buying goods and services.
The technology is increasingly sophisticated. The Nymi Band is the first biometrically authenticated wearable, using your heartbeat of fingerprint to validate contactless credit payments. Some developers are already experimenting with 'bio-payments', via NFC chips implanted under the skin.
Wearable technology doesn't need to go quite that far to dramatically improve the travel experience of public transport users. They could take a page out of the Disney playbook. Walt Disney World uses MagicBands, its own brand of wearables, for mobile ticketing the various rides across its theme park. Apple Watches have joined the iPhone as virtual entrance ticket holders for a number of entertainment and transport providers – although the airline industry is generally still struggling to catch up on reading mobile tickets on smart watches.
Juniper Research predicts explosive growth for mobile, contactless ticketing, especially in the metro and bus transport networks: extensive trials have successfully been concluded across transport networks in Japan, the UK, France and Korea, among others.
In Rio during the Olympics, visitors could use a bright yellow band instead of their RioCard on buses, ferries, the metro and train. In London, cash payments on trains or buses are out, contactless payments are in – either still via the now-familiar Oyster card, or via the bPay wristband, which is directly pre-loadable from user bank accounts, thus avoiding queueing at crowded kiosks.
And that is the crucial advantage of contactles, wearable technology: it provides for a much more seamless travel experience, eliminating the hassle of getting, charging, using and storing a variety of access cards.
With access technology, money and identification all going virtual, not only will you have more and more room in your wallet – pretty soon, you won't need one any more...
Image: Martin Falbisoner, CC BY-SA 4.0