Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/6/2010 (4121 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The hundred or so bathers braving the cold temperatures and rainy weather last Thursday for the grand opening of the Calypso water park in Limoges, Ont., about 160 kilometres from Montreal, were also pioneers of a brand-new technology.
The water park is the first in North America to allow bathers to pay for food and merchandise with their fingerprints while their wallets stay stored in a locker or even at home.
Calypso, which calls itself the largest themed water park in Canada, installed fingerprint scanners at all 55 point-of-sale terminals in the water park's restaurants, bars and boutiques. When they first arrive, guests can register a credit card or debit card or deposit cash, and their money is then linked to their fingerprints, which are scanned and turned into a binary code stored on Calypso's central computer system. When they leave, the information is either deleted or it can stay in the park's systems for a future visit.
"All of our guests are in bathing suits," said Sylvain Lauzon, executive vice-president of Calypso. "They don't usually have credit cards or wallets on them, so it's an issue for people to have to go all the way back to their lockers when they want to pay for something."
What seems futuristic today could become the norm not just at water parks, but at grocery stores, shopping malls and movie theatres.
Mobile money is coming to a store near you, as credit-card companies, banks, mobile-phone companies and e-commerce businesses are all working on ways to allow shoppers to leave their wallets at home.
Rather than the fingerprint, however, it's more likely mobile phones will be key to the mainstream adoption of new pay methods, as smartphones like the iPhone, BlackBerry or Android-powered devices are poised to replace conventional phones.
"Any of these systems (of mobile payment) pretty much have to run on a smartphone," said Robert Burbach, a senior analyst at IDC Financial Insights. He said fingerprint payments will probably remain a niche market but won't gain widespread use.
-- Canwest News Service
Pay without wallet
There are five ways to pay without a wallet:
-- Interactive voice response -- Users call a phone number, enter payment details and a code and use their voice as an identification method.
-- Mobile web -- Users go to a web page to enter payment information that can be linked to a credit card or bank account.
-- Mobile payment applications for smartphones -- Users download an application to send money to a retailer.
-- SMS messaging -- Already used in Belgium, customers receive an invoice by text message and confirm the payment using a secret code.
-- Near-field communications -- Being developed by credit and debit card companies, this involves implanting the chip, already used in new credit and debit cards, into a phone (either a physical chip or the equivalent in a memory card). The phone's antenna communicates with a payment terminal so users can swipe their phones and enter a code to confirm the purchase.