The world of payments is changing: people are buying ever more things online and increasingly with their phones. Whizz-bang technology can make transactions effortless or embed them seamlessly into other activities, such as booking a cab or searching for a nearby coffee shop. The numbers are becoming significant: PayPal has 143m active accounts and handled 80 billion in payments last year. And new services to make spending money easier are springing up all the time.
Not surprisingly, the titans of the internet have started to eye up the payments business. Google offers a virtual wallet; Amazon recently set up a service to allow its customers to transfer money; Facebook and Apple have expressed interest in the field. There is much speculation that the latest iPhone’s ability to read fingerprints may be heralding a world-changing payment service. Telecoms companies (such as Safaricom, the firm behind M-PESA) and bricks-and-mortar merchants (Starbucks) are also dabbling in the field.[READ MORE](http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21601624-and-no-end-new-ways-pay-your-bills-end-monopoly)