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How will we get to the funds in our bank accounts in the future? Cards, phones, fingerprints… there are all kinds of ways to prove we are who we are, so what can we realistically expect within the next decade?

Yesterday's Times carried a whole section on the 'Future of Payments', full of interesting articles on what might lie ahead. One of them, 'The state of pay and a contactless society', starts with a look at a character called 'Harry' and how he pays for things as he goes about his life - in 2020.

A scanner identifies him by his iris at the supermarket's automated checkout. A reader at the cinema checks his RFID-enabled (Radio Frequency Identification) watch and takes the money from his bank account. He pays for his pizza delivery using the virtual credits he's built up on his gaming account.

All in all, it's been a long time since he actually used cash to pay for something.

However, the article goes on to make this point: although the technologies mentioned here are already in use in other fields, that doesn't mean we'll all be paying for things in ways like these before the decade is out.

Money, it stresses, 'is emotive'. People won't be quick to trust new ways of spending it.

If we're not living in a 'cashless utopia' by the end of the decade, the article concludes, 'it will be down to consumer caution rather than tardy technology'.

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