I received an email earlier this week from my bank informing me that they were hijacking the PayPal idea and allowing me to send money to individuals anywhere and at any bank via their SurePay Service. This got me thinking, my generation will likely be the last generation to see and use paper checks. I honestly can’t remember the last time I wrote a check for something. In 5-10 years, I’d be surprised if checks exist at all. My parents still write checks, but that is solely because of the fact that they haven’t figured out how to master an iPhone and send money via a PayPal app (or find their glasses in order to see the screen). No one wants a check anymore either, because it requires you to actually go to a bank to deposit it. Now banks allow you to take a picture of a check and deposit via a smartphone app, but you get my point.
The rise and explosion of mobile internet and other technologies that have simplified online transactions has cut costs and reduced the barriers to entry that have now evolved into brand new kinds of commerce. Entry costs are so low that someone who sells a widget or a service can now access a global market of potential customers and sell from the comfort of their own home. Did you know that Airbnb, a company that brokers deals between travelers and people with spare rooms for rent in their home or apartments, booked more than 10 million stays in 2012?? Analysts predict Airbnb could soon be outselling major international hotel chains, all via an app on your smartphone while sitting in your airplane seat waiting to take off. Starbucks was ahead of the digital commerce curve last year, when they partnered with Square to process payments for a cup of coffee via your smartphone. They are now rumored to be working on an instant photo verification process for buyers.
The digital commerce trend will continue to evolve and grow over the next decade. Only time will tell what innovation will be next. But for now, if you haven’t become familiar or comfortable with using PayPal or other digital forms of payment, you might want to start. There likely won’t be many other options soon.