In "The Future of Money," Daniel Roth of Wired offers a brief evolution on the flow of cash, and describes how the credit card is poised upon the brink of decline. With the current system of point-of-sale card readers, banks and c
redit card companies, businesses are at the mercy of an antiquated queue of fees, transfers, and other headaches.
The Internet, Paypal, and the 21st century have a tendency of disrupting other poorly aging industries (see: music, film and art), and are currently putting an expiration date on credit card company executives' heads. While we observe the inexorable extinction (unless they undergo some fundamental re-inventing) a small panoply of streamlined payment services are lining up to shorten the wait.
A few of Roth's "New Ways to Pay" highlights:
Twitpay - according to this article, when PayPal opened its code to developers, Michael Ivey used it to link Twitter users' to their PayPal accounts. The input boxes on the site do the work, tweeting the cash from one Tweeter to another.
Zong - "Frictionless Mobile Payments." A business applies for a Zong account, and once accepted, their customers pay by giving the business their mobile phone number. Zong bills the customers through their moblie carrier, who pays Zong when they pay their phone bill. Because more people globally own a mobile phone than they do a credit card, the Zong site claims that conversion rates are much higher than credit methods.
Square - Using a small piece of card-reading hardware that plugs into anything with an audio-input, anyone can accept credit cards with Square's service. Square emails receipts, uses card holder photo verification, has a repeat customer rewards program and donates a penny of each transaction to a charity of the customer's choice. The project was started by glass artist Jim McKelvey, Twitter creator and co-founder Jack Dorsey, as well as a host of other Silicon Valley somebodies.
Also mentioned were GetGiving and Hub Culture.