Future of payments: physical to digital currency

Many of you have probably heard the "Bitcoin Pizza Story" where this man buys a pizza with 10,000 Bitcoins as the value of Bitcoin at the time was only a few cents. But not too long later, he came to realise how he had spent what would have been millions on a single pizza as the value of Bitcoin skyrocketed.

This story is a popular reference to Bitcoin's early days when people were unaware of the potential value of digital currency. However, a reverse story would be true for those who bought Bitcoin a few years back.

With the advent of Bitcoin, the future of physical currency is increasingly waning. Digital payment systems such as credit cards, mobile payment apps and digital currencies are clear evidence of how people are moving away from using physical currency. In fact, the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift towards digital payments as more people are opting for contactless transactions to avoid the spread of the virus.

The future of payment will most likely be characterised by increased digitalisation and greater consumer convenience. Mobile payments have proven to be very popular in developing countries like Bangladesh.

The current penetration level reached above 60 per cent among the adult population. The growing trend of using mobile devices for payments is likely to continue. This includes mobile wallets and payment apps that allow consumers the convenience of making purchases and transferring money using their smartphones.

The other technology driving digital payment is contactless payments. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of contactless payments such as payments made through NFC (near-field communication) technology. This trend will likely continue as consumers become more accustomed to the convenience and safety of contactless payments.

Cryptocurrency payments are debated and accepted by many as a digital payment mode. It is becoming more mainstream with companies like Tesla and PayPal accepting Bitcoin and other digital currencies. As the technology behind cryptocurrencies improves and becomes more widely adopted, cryptocurrency payments will likely become more common.

Biometric authentication methods such as fingerprint and facial recognition are probably widely used for payments, making transactions more secure and convenient.

Overall, the future of payments will likely be characterised by increased convenience, security, and digitalisation, focusing on making payments as seamless and frictionless as possible for consumers.

The future of digital currency, also known as cryptocurrency, is likely to be shaped by several key trends: regulation; improved security measures to prevent hacking and fraud and improving the technology behind blockchain, the underlying technology that powers cryptocurrencies; and wider adoption of cryptocurrencies are becoming more mainstream, with growing numbers of retailers and businesses accepting Bitcoin and other digital currencies as payments. This trend is likely to continue as people become more familiar with cryptocurrencies and their potential benefits.

As far as Bangladesh is concerned, we have stagnated for the last decade with mobile financial services, a half-cooked digital currency. We have heard of Bangladesh Bank working on digital bank and digital currency, but the progress is yet to be seen.

When we all know that digital currency is inevitable, it is better to be prepared for it. In our context, the most critical success factor for digital currency is significantly expanding the merchant network. If planned and executed well under the close supervision of the central bank, digital currency may act as a crucial factor in building our innovative economy.

The author is a telecom and management expert   


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