Not too long ago, if you wanted an alternative to a cash payment for goods and services purchased, the only other real option was perhaps a credit or debit card. Because of the ease with which they could be forged, cheques died out almost as quickly as they came into prominence. Lately though there seems to be a serious spike in the many different payment solutions we have at our disposal, which I guess is only a good thing since it allows some people who were previously excluded from economic activity a chance to participate.
The use of preloaded debit cards is seeing somewhat of an explosion, largely due to the fact that these cards make for a convenient substitute for the good old credit card, which of course is something which is otherwise not readily available to everyone. You pretty much have to have an official source of income (you need to be employed) in order to qualify for a credit card. While it’s understandable that those banks issuing credit cards need some way of proving that you can pay back the credit you take out on your credit card, for many people who couldn’t qualify for credit cards it meant missing out on a lot of products and service which they could’ve otherwise purchased conveniently online. For a very long time, a lot of what you could buy online could only be paid for via credit card. Preloaded cards fill that gap nicely, most of which are issued by a partner of MasterCard.
Mobile payments are probably going to take over from preloaded cards and credit cards in the very near future. Although preloaded cards do well to fill the gap left wide open by the difficulty with which regular credit cards are accessed, some people in some parts of the world are still in a sense barred from making use of and subsequently getting preloaded cards from off-shore issuers. This is largely due to local exchange laws, some of which are very restrictive to say the least. On the contrary, pretty much everybody has a mobile phone and even though not everybody necessarily has a smartphone, some of the most popular mobile payment solutions support normal feature phones. Just as is the case with preloaded cards though, even the banks are catching on to this popularity growth in mobile payments and so they offer their own versions of the service.
Generally though, the overall surge in payments solutions is giving rise to a much more competitive market, with the consumer ultimately walking away as the winner. Competition in this way drives down prices and breaks up monopolies, monopolies which were firmly in the hands of the big financial institutions. A fine selection of big technology companies are also entering the payments solutions market quite rapidly, with the likes of Android Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay amongst many others sure to make for some interesting developments in the world of payments solutions.
I’m pretty sure soon there’ll be no transaction fees at all when payments change hands, particularly if the payment is facilitated over the same platform for both the sender and the recipient.
Katie is a finance specialist with one of the biggest firms in London. From savings to investments, there’s nothing she can’t advise on and she’s here to help spread the word and help you on your way to financial freedom.