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Buy your coffee in the blink of an eye (literally): Here's the future of paying for things

We’re moving more and more quickly toward a cashless society. Hear more in our new podcast.

Image: Shutterstock/

FUTURE STORIES IS a monthly podcast from and Volkswagen. This month, we’re looking ahead to the future of paying for things.

It’s time to do the weekly food shop. You sit down on the couch, strap a VR headset on, and browse the aisles of your local supermarket.

Or maybe you feel like getting out of the house, so you head to the supermarket in real life, load up on groceries, and walk out. No need to queue at the checkout – the scanners can tell exactly which items you have in the trolley, and your payment implant means you can pay with the wave of a hand.

It may sound far-fetched, but this kind of future is closer than you’d think. In Sweden, more than 4000 residents have microchips implanted into their hands, meaning they can pay for food and travel, or get through office doors, without fumbling for a card.

Cashless society

“It’s nothing more than piercing an ear and putting a tiny radio transmitter, essentially, under your skin,” says Bruce Burke in the latest episode of Future Stories. He’s the founder of #PAY Symposium, a US conference dedicated to the future of the payments industry.

You’re just putting the back of your hand against a terminal. If you’re in the kind of environment where you’re commuting back and forth to work, authenticating yourself at turnstiles, at office doors, in taxis all throughout the day, it’s perfect.

In fact, many retailers in Sweden simply don’t accept paper money, due to negative interest rates on cash which make depositing notes and coins a costly effort. The country’s central bank is now pushing for other European countries to adopt the same approach.

Bought in? Hear more in the latest episode of Future Stories. The new episode is live right now:

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Source: Journal Media/SoundCloud

Listen to it on Soundcloud here. Or click-through to be taken to it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Audioboom.

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