Tapping your card, clicking a button on your phone, and keeping your card information in a company’s system are just a few of the ways payment technology has evolved. Cash may be on the way out, and cards and new technologies will pave the way for a new future economy.

But there are other ways that paying for goods and services is becoming easier for consumers every day.

  • Pay-by-plate parking software. In Galveston, Texas, the police department is starting to use a system that smoothly enforces parking regulations. Instead of installing any more meters, the town is using technology to record fines online. A quick website visit or mobile phone payment is all it takes to pay a parking violation fine.

  • Pay-ahead dining. Restaurants are now starting to offer pay-ahead dining options. Much like going to a concert or theater performance, diners will pay a flat rate for their meals ahead of time. Not only does this remove the hassle of waiting for the check and handling payment at the end of a meal, it allows restaurants to recoup the costs of no-shows at reserved tables. This could be the permanent future of luxury dining.

  • Pay-at-will dining. Some restaurants have begun using tablet payments to make dining experiences more efficient for guests. Others allow diners to order from a tablet. Using tablet technology in the restaurant business may help restaurants avoid menu selection errors that have cost them money in the past.

  • Apple Pay. For many retailers and services, Apple Pay is turning into a great tool. The payment method is secure, simple, and affordable. Many payment terminals are already equipped to handle Apple Pay with only slight modifications.

  • Contactless payment. Some retailers and banks are looking at installing solutions that don’t require the swipe of a card to submit a payment. Instead, customers simply tap their card to pay. Some gas stations and retailers already offer this technology, but it’s limited to certain cards. Over the next few years, it may become a more secure way for in-store shoppers to purchase items. Swiping devices are modified and being used to collect consumer information more and more frequently, and a contactless system should make hacking the payment process much more difficult.

  • The future of Bitcoin was hot in the media in 2013, but mainstream coverage of the currency has fizzled. The future of the cyber currency has remained uncertain. It does seem to be gaining traction in markets around the world as a valuable investment, though.

  • General mobile payments. Mobile access to credit card and payment information will continue to grow as a popular method of payment that competes with traditional plastic cards, cash, and checks. With the assistance of Bluetooth technology, mobile payments will allow consumers and businesses to set up easy transactions that are secure, immediate, and convenient.

  • POS Systems. Point-of-Sale or POS systems are taking their information storage into the cloud. Cloud-based systems and apps will take over traditional POS systems even more heavily and allow businesses to provide more individualized attention to each customer. Information that is transferred from a POS to the cloud can be used along with marketing platforms to direct customized information to consumers.

Payment systems are evolving every day. Luckily, the mobile nature of payment technology is enabling small businesses to keep up with the pace and remain viable alongside their industry giants.