I pay for some things on a regular basis. They generally fall into two categories:
- Things I pay for or lose, eg a variety of online services (Spotify for example)
- Things I'm legally obliged to pay because I've signed a contract (my mobile bill, for example)
In the first case, I suspect recurring payments could be handled relatively easily with upgrades to the original client interface. (Maybe it would be complicated by the desire to have a new address per transaction.)
In the second case, the other party has a stronger vested interest in knowing they will receive the money. Currently, with bank standing orders and direct debits, nothing stops me cancelling regular payments on my end. But companies who receive the payments rely in part on knowing I have to go out of my way to do that. They also rely on knowing that my wages likely go into the same bank account that their payment comes out of.
With Bitcoin, the situation is reversed. I have to go out of my way to make a recurring payment. Even I was using some online service ("Bitcoin bank"?) to make the payments, I'd still have to go out of my way to top up the balance.
With no changes to Bitcoin, if it became a dominant currency, I would predict an increase in the use of debt collection agencies to recover missed contract payments. Good for debt collection agencies, but it would drive up the cost of the services proportionately.
How could recurring payments be implemented in a mutually satisfactory way? Or is the current system inherently impossible to recreate with Bitcoin?