Cheaper, slimmer circuits could revolutionise wireless payments

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Microcircuits, ultra-slim and purporting to be 10 to 100 times cheaper than silicon, could revolutionise the way we pay for everyday items, an expert has said.

Scott White, CEO of PragmatIC Printing, told The Guardian that his company’s circuits are cheap enough to use in place of bar codes on mass market items like groceries and cups of coffee.

He explained: “With something which is slimmer than a human hair and very flexible, you can embed that in objects in a way that is not apparent to the user until it is called upon to do something. But also the cost is dramatically lower than the conventional silicon so it allows it to be put in products and packaging that would never justify the cost of a piece of normal electronics.”

According to White this technology could enable supermarket shoppers to fill their trolleys and walk right out of the store, the circuits embedded in food packaging registering what is bought and taking payment. The circuits, which are powered by the smartphone or contactless payment card that reads them, could last as long as two years, White said.

According to White this technology could cost as little as tens of cents to add to a mass market product. He said: “If you look at what can be done using conventional electronics, it is always going to be constrained by physical form factor [size] and cost. It is the combination of those factors which allows us to start thinking about doing things with this which wouldn’t even be conceivable with conventional silicon based electronics.”

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