Technological advances are moving at hyperspeed in the 21st century and what was normal yesterday has become obsolete today. A decade ago most people hadn’t even heard of a cashless economy. But in 2021 payments by debit and credit card now far exceed those from real cash, taking up 80% of all transactions. In fact, in 2020, the number of payments made with cash fell by 35%. 

Of course, much of this is driven by the extraordinary growth in online sales of goods and services since the turn of the century. A factor that has been accelerated by the global pandemic from 2019 to 2021 which shut down much of the high street for prolonged periods as countries went into lockdown and consumers hit the online stores in greater numbers. 

When we talk about a cashless economy, it’s not just about the switch to debit and credit cards though. The cashless revolution is also about different payment services found online and through your mobile device. Nowadays we are becoming as comfortable with new tech payment options like eWallets and mobile phone payments as we are with Mastercard and Visa. 

Here we look at 3 of the most popular and interesting alternative digital payment solutions that will help you to extend your cashless options and make quick and convenient payments in the future. 

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We are starting here with Paypal because it’s an easy entry point for those who have not yet explored the alternatives to the cash or cards in their wallet. Paypal is the most widely used eWallet available and has been in existence since 1998, making it one of the oldest in existence. An eWallet allows you to store funds in a virtual place and make payments to any business that accepts the service – and millions do worldwide. 

The big advantage is that when you pay for goods and services, then you only need to use your Paypal username and password to confirm the transaction. You do not need to share your bank details. For those with concerns about security this is a key plus point of the Paypal system. To enhance this service’s safety, Paypal also uses an SMS or app verification system to verify the users ID when each payment is made.

If you are looking to use an eWallet for the first time then we recommend this one above all others simply because it is so easy to use and so widely accepted. Getting set up takes just minutes. You just need to sign up an account on the Paypal site and link a bank account or credit card to Paypal to facilitate payments into your virtual wallet, and then you’re ready to go.

It is also worth noting that you can bypass the wallet and simply use Paypal as the gateway for making payments with a credit or debit card. Again, all you need is your Paypal log in details to make this happen each time. 

NOTE: In a quick survey of our writers, Paypal proved to be the most popular choice of eWallet! Recommendations don’t come better that that! 

Google Pay

The other two payment services that we are going to profile for you here are those created by the great tech rivals, Google and Apple. Google Pay is a contactless or online service that is sometimes known as Android Pay though it can now also be used on iOS devices. 

In the offline world, to use Google Pay you will need to have Android Pay installed on your phone and set up correctly. You can then just hold your phone over the card reader at any business to make the payment go through. This is a faster way of paying than credit cards which take a few seconds to transact with a terminal. Google Pay is instant.

One of the great advantages of Google Pay is the speed at which you can set it up. Most Android Phones will already have the app installed, but if it isn’t then you can just download it from the app store in seconds. Next, you’ll need to link a bank card to your app, which can even be done by taking a picture of it. Then you are good to go. 

Google Pay is perhaps not as widely accepted as other payment services yet, but it is fast catching up. Currently not all banks are connected with Google Pay either, but you can find a list of those that are – and it includes most of the big names – on their website

Apple Pay

Finally, let’s take a look at one of the newest and fastest growing of the digital payment systems to arrive in the last decade. Few brands can claim to have had such a huge impact on the tech world than Apple and following the success of their computer and phone hardware, and music software, it is no surprise that their reach grows with the Apple Pay system that measures up favourably against their great rivals, Google.

Apple Pay has been in existence since 2014 and in 2021 it is now the biggest mobile payment system in existence with 43.9 million users. It is predicted to grow by 14 million users between 2020 and 2025. By comparison, Google is expected to grow by 10 million in that time. The service is of course a global concern, featuring everywhere from Apple Pay online casinos like these ones to Starbucks shops in London and McDonalds restaurants in China. 

In terms of usability, Apple Pay works in much the same way as Google Pay. Users just have to download the app onto their phone if it’s not already installed, and then connect a bank card to the app. After that, payments can be made with contactless terminals offline, or using the Apple Pay app online. Face or finger touch ID, or your PIN will work to verify the transaction. It’s that simple, making it the easiest of the three payment services reviewed in this article. The only drawback is that Apple Pay only currently works with Apple iPhones, but this may change in the future. 

In conclusion, this is just a small selection of the digital payment services currently challenging the traditional ones right now. There are many more out there but for ease, popularity and security, and for those making the move to digital for the first time, we recommend that you start here.