One of the most important citizen and eco-space interactions is payments. The government is pushing towards building or financing a plethora of smart city initiatives.
What are smart Cities?
Smart Cities are defined by extensive use of technology to make life simpler and more comfortable, while being friendly to the environment. A smart city uses information and communication technology to provide public services more efficiently. Data are made available on a real-time basis for better planning and making policies which are forward-looking and help in sustainable development.
How does payment figure into this?
For smart cities to be really smart and data driven, payment systems have to be digital and smart. Current payment systems are digital (except the currency note, but you already knew that) but are not smart.
Current payment systems have some limitations, a few of which are highlighted below
1. Work with proximity sensors (experiments have begun but there is a long way to go) to raise a transaction/claim for services delivered.
2. Tap and Pay. While tap and pay cards have been around for the longest time, they have not evolved to an extent where the can communicate to the base station at high speeds.
3. RFID tags to capture toll payments electronically have come up in the last few years. A successful implementation is the UAE’s toll system called Saalik, which allows drivers to whiz past the toll gates at 100 kmph+. India has a really long way to go there.
While we have dwelled on the limitations, let us spend some digital ink on various possibilities.
1. Creating QR code based credit instruments. Just like a credit card but this is only a QR code that is available on the person’s device of choice. Bulky swipe machines can be replaced with nifty scanners or just by upgrading any
2. Proximity payments using NFC/RFID tags that are stuck to the back side of any device. These stickers can be removed at any time and stuck to any other device depending on the usage.
3. Pre-authenticated QR codes that are dynamically updated as and when used. Reduces the creation of cards and also eliminates specialized hardware.
Can you think of any payment system that is smart enough for smart cities? Do comment below.