Seth Godin wrote earlier today about the end of geography. Three of the most important inventions in the last 100 years, in his eyes, are:
- Credit cards – which enabled transactions to take place at a distance
- The internet – which moved information from one end of the world to the other as easily as across the room
- Cell phones – which cut the wires
Credit cards definitely do enable transactions to take place at a distance, but I think there’s an element that is growing more important by the day with “transactions at a distance”, and that is security. There have been so many credit card thefts recently it’s hard to keep track of.
Credit Cards are an archaic technology emphatically not built with internet security in mind. Security was (poorly) bolted on using repeatedly broken tools such as SSL, and trust through networks of PCI-certified vendors. Don’t get me wrong, credit cards were great for getting us to where we are, but now we’re seeing that the combination of the three things listed above enable exciting new ways to transact at a distance, but securely (for real this time).
Apple Pay is one of these new technologies that tries to up the security game when transacting at a distance. I think whats more exciting, however, are the open standards and technologies that are being built to tackle this security problem. The biggest one at the moment is Bitcoin.
Bitcoin technology allows people to transact at a distance, much like credit cards, but transactions on this network can happen securely over insecure channels (the internet, public wifi, etc.). Seth says those were three of the most important inventions of the last 100 years. New technologies like Apple Pay, and the Bitcoin blockchain combine the internet, cell phones, and electronic payments to bring us something even better and more secure. What will we be saying about these technologies in 100 years? How about in 5 years?