There’s been an interesting development in how you pay for things. Mobil and Exxon have been using their so-called “Speedpass” system to allow people to pay for gas at the pump without having to swipe a credit card. It’s a little keychain fob that contains a radio-frequency identifier (RFID) chip; when you wave it near the pump the system deducts the cost of your gas from your credit card automatically.

Now they’ve teamed up with McDonald’s (in the Chicago area) to offer a way to pay for your meals. Plus, rather than using a keychain you can use a watch. Here’s the text from their ad:

“Are you the type of person who likes sneak previews and private screenings? Are you the first on your block to have the latest gadget? Well, we have just the product for you — the NEW SPEEDPASS-ENABLED TIMEX WATCH. Order yours today!

Your Speedpass-enabled Timex Watch is the fastest and easiest way to pay. No reaching for your wallet, or fumbling with change. The new watch looks and functions just like a regular watch. However, inside the watchband is a miniature Speedpass radio frequency transponder that allows customers to instantly pay for purchases at over 7,500 Exxon and Mobil stations nationwide and at over 440 participating McDonalds’ restaurants in Chicago and Northwest Indiana.”

I wonder if this is going to catch on and cause other merchants to accept Speedpass purchases? Moreover, will we start to see other devices (jewelry, etc.) containing the RFID chips? With recent news about Wal-Mart considering various implementations of RFID in their merchandise, it’s definitely an up-and-coming technology.

Of course the paranoid (who, me?) see that down the road it’s inevitable that you’d have an RFID chip implanted directly in, say, the back of your hand. That way it can’t be stolen (at least not easily) and it’s always with you.

Does convenience outweigh the risks/concerns with this sort of thing?