At today's Intel Developer Forum, MasterCard joined the chipmaker on stage to talk about electronic payments. Beneath all the marketing speak and generic statements was a wonderful revelation: the two companies are going to partner up to give merchants and laptop makers the necessary technology they need to act as credit card terminals.
What this means for you, the online shopper, is that you no longer have to store your credit card info online (or enter that hellacious number every time). Instead, you just tap your card or phone on your computer and get on with your day.
As a demo, the two companies gave an example of how someone might buy something from online retailer TigerDirect. It ends with someone tapping a credit card on a trackpad. Simple as that. This may not seem like that big of a deal on the surface, but consider the benefits: you save time, you don't have to worry about someone using your account to buy things if you get hacked, and you don't have the hassles of updating your account information everywhere when you get a new card.
Sure, this is an idea that's not quite ready for primetime, but it's a future vision that's very, very plausible, if not likely. The Intel-Mastercard union aside -- one that is already influential on its own -- there are plenty of other reasons why we will probably be using this technology in our day-to-day lives before too long.
For starters, we're already in the midst of a mobile payment revolution. PayPass, Square and Google Wallet are some of the payment options available now in the US, and electronic/NFC-based payments are less and less of a foreign thing to the average consumer. Secondly, Apple is about to join the party with its Passbook feature, which will help push mobile payments further into mainstream usage. And with more and more phones and PCs coming equipped with NFC, the technology will be there en masse (meaning merchants can spend time and money integrating the feature knowing more than 10 people will use it).
Australia has so far been left out of the mobile payment revolution, but it won't be long before everyone will be able to really take advantage of the technology and change the way we shop. For that reason alone, I'm excited for the day when I can buy stuff online with a tap.