Saturday, August 15, 2009

I'll take "Not Bloody Likely" for $500, Alex...

The wallet of the future will be your mobile phone!

At least, that's what the perky headline at CNN said. I say "fat frickin' chance". Look, I got a cell phone so I can call somebody if I have a flat tire in Two Mules, Kentucky, not to use as the Passport to the Exciting World of Tomorrow. Most of the time, I'm not even sure where it is. I don't even know the phone number off the top of my head.

The article goes on to state that
A 963-person survey by Forrester Research, for instance, found that 15 percent of Japanese mobile phone users make payments and purchase products in stores with their phones.
I'm not sure how they think that has any correlation with America. I mean, 15 percent of Japanese eat boiled squid eyeballs and allow themselves to be shoved into subway cars by professional "stuffers" for heaven's sake. Have you seen how they do that? I usually don't like to get that close to someone I'm actually having sex with, much less a total stranger during my morning commute.

Meanwhile, Americans are an innately conservative lot who launch new conspiracy theories every time they contemplate changing the pictures on the money. A sizeable portion of the American economy still prefers the speed and/or anonymity of cash. Even in this world of nearly ubiquitous debit cards, look at how many people instead go through the elaborate tea ceremony of writing paper checks. I just don't see a magic wand of a cell phone replacing that.


Mongo said...

On the gripping hand, it's likely a sizable potion of the population is now twittering about the idea on their crackberries while they wait in line at starbies for another 1200 milligrams of gold plated caffeine.

Society changes, even if it is akin to fungus creeping across the face of a rock in some damp and forgotten place.

Tam said...

True, but Americans are mighty peculiar in their societal conservatism about some things, vis a vis people in other countries: Specifically, guns and money.

Anonymous said...

USAA just released an update to their iPhone app where you can deposit checks with it by taking pictures with it.

I often catch up on my RSS feed from this very site using my phone. For that matter, I'm posting this from it.

Oh I admit I'm not typical. $DIETY help this country if I were. And, funny thing, I do more at my phone bow because I'm sick of the computer screen at the end of the day. But I suspect that the phone == wallet convergence will be faster than you think, judging by the rapid uptake of the blackberry and iPhone by the non-professional (I.e. Smartphone not issued by employer).

staghounds said...

It's odd if you think about it, but cash can't really disappear. Since we are legally required to accept it, that's what makes it money- and aside from convenience, the only reason we DO accept it.

All the electric things are just tokens for the paper tokens.

If there weren't physical cash, how would our masters define what we had to accept as payment? Or what they would accept as payment of our taxes?

And after that word, what's the captcha? I swear on the blue dome,


staghounds said...

Oh, I forgot- here's another reason.

And, those Japanese train pushers aren't in it. Here's the way to fill up a train car- after the doors open and the exiters exit, have one of your sergeants sling a bucket full of cold water throug into the car's occupants. Then have your soldiers jam the new passengers into the vast space that appears as if by magic.

(Courtesy of my great uncle DeForest. It's one of the five tricks he said he learned in the A. E. F.)

O Rama, how does it know? The captcha word is PERSHIN

Joanna said...

I read somewhere that Japan's had HD broadcasting since the '80s. If that's the case, then I don't see this becoming available, even for early-early-early adopters, for quite some time.

Incidentally, my WV is hozindi, which doesn't have anything to do with anything. So stop panicking.

Brad K. said...


I remember a couple-three years ago, Wal-Mart sued Visa and Mastercard. It seems that when WM ran a debit card, Visa/MC ran the transaction as a credit purchase instead - making the plastic companies millions in fees, right out of the money WM expected.

A year or two ago my bank was bought, and the buyer issued new "debit" cards that aren't. These new cards are proudly stamped "Debit" - but while they take the money direct from your checking account, even to overdrawing, they process as a credit transaction. Minor difference to the consumer? Maybe. Some merchants stopped taking debit cards.

Several stores and restaurants in town stopped taking checks. It seems they resent the 3-5% service charge on each check, now that Visa is processing checks and charging like they are a credit transaction. The restaurant had a choice - accept the 4% insult fee, or stop taking checks.

A lot can change in a few years. I realize it took many years to take Susan B. Anthony dollars out of circulation, and two (2) dollar bills. But we didn't have B. Hussein Obama, President Unicorn Farts and HopeAndChange himself. Just watch how quickly Washington, DC can change the face of Health Care - or the popularity of the President.

Jeffro said...

When the grocery stores can stock EBRs between the bread and milk is the time I wanna wave my Crackberry at one and walk out the door with it.

Unknown said...

Cashless is Control, and It's Coming.

I recommend raising chickens.

Anonymous said...

I think it amusing folks will yell and scream (rightly so) at a 1% increase in sales tax, but have no concern for the credit card fees that have a worse impact on final price.

I have noticed an increasing number of gas stations offering discounts for cash (usually 5 cents), even though this is prohibited by their credit card company agreements.

Always tip in cash, it reduces Uncle Sam's cut.

Long live cash.


Buck said...

Physical money will continue to exist, it's too useful to bribe with.

Anonymous said...

People complain about sales tax because they notice it, the price on the shelf says $0.99, they pay $1.05. The credit card fees aren't listed, except for small businesses it can be hard to find any place that even has a minimum amount for a credit transaction.

I do usually pay for my gas with credit because if I want to fill my tank I must either leave a substantial tip or go into the store and wait in line one to pay and one to get my change, but I can't go to just any cashier to get my change, it has to be the same one that I paid. So I pay with credit to increase the cost of doing business hoping they will see a reduction in profit and connect it to assuming I'm a criminal.

Steve Skubinna said...

Joanna, just because "hozindi" is meaningless to you doesn't mean the rest of us don't get it.

Mine is bersalen. I suppose you're going to claim that's random, too, huh?

BryanP said...

More and more functions are being consolidated into the newer smart phones. I don't think it will be that many more years before we'll all be carrying around a box about the size of an iPhone / Palm Pre etc.. that will be your phone, debit card, hundreds of gigs of music, a gps map etc.., portable computing environment to plug into your PC at work or home, or just wireless connections to a full sized keyboard, mouse, monitor.

Will some people avoid this? Of course. As you say, I still see people writing physical checks in stores. It's becoming something of an anachronism though, and becoming more and more so every day. It's to the point that when I see someone writing a check at the store I find myself reacting much as I would if I saw someone using a cap & ball revolver as their CCW.

the pawnbroker said...

"I usually don't like to get that close to someone I'm actually having sex with..."

i'm sure there's an iphone app for that...


theirritablearchitect said...

"...I usually don't like to get that close to someone I'm actually having sex with, much less a total stranger during my morning commute..."


Joanna said...

*whispers* Dangit, Steve Skubini, you're gonna blow my cover! *normal voice* Of course it's random, why wouldn't it be?

Joanna said...

Skubinna. 'Scuse me.

Steve Skubinna said...

Oh, right, and I'm supposed to believe the "Skubini" was random, too, huh?

Do not look out your window, that is NOT a black helicopter overhead.

aczarnowski said...

These things take a generation to saturate. Cashless already came with the credit card last generation. We added paypal and the web. The next gen will move that to whatever wet wear they have installed in their brains (the current 1.0 electronic brain installation is a cell phone).

staghounds said...


"...when I see someone writing a check at the store I find myself reacting much as I would if I saw someone using a cap & ball revolver as their CCW."

What, you pull out your modrn, polymer framed revolving credit or automatic debit card and offer to help?

BryanP said...


No. I'll just think "Hmm. Gets the job done I suppose, but ... why?"

Firehand said...

I don't mind checks, except when the(almost ALWAYS) woman in front of me waits until she has the total to write ANYTHING on the damn check; then I get pissed.

And I use cash for most stuff in stores. The idea of leaving an audit trail of everything I buy, and the possibilites for scams, I worry about.

Yeah, the audit trail bit is a touch paranoid, but nowadays?

Anonymous said...

I work in an industry that employs a lot of Millwrights, Iron Workers, Laborers, Pipe Fitters, etc, etc. Half don't have cell phones, and half of them don't own computers. If they do own a computer, it's for the wife or kids. Those guys work side jobs, build things, rebuild cars and motorcycles, fix the neighbors broken stuff, and could care less about most technology like that. Many barter work for stuff, and pay for everything else with cash.
Maybe when that generation is gone, and their kids are gone, you'll have 100% assimilation...

the pawnbroker said...

cue springsteen:

"them jobs are gone and they ain't comin' back..."

ditto the guys that do them. i worked with that bunch too when i was a kid; coarse bunch, but i liked them, and learned skills and other things that i've used my whole life (how many folks do you know who can splice 1" manila or wire rope into a sling?).

i miss them, and their kids won't have the chance to be just like their old man. inevitable perhaps, but sad just the same.


Anonymous said...

If we completely lose them, we're in for big trouble, because if this country can't manufacture ANYTHING but paper and technology, we're pretty much useless. Here's to hoping they don't disappear. I guess our standard of living is going to have to drop to save them, which is a distinct possibility IMHO. This little recession we're in is just a precursor to much larger things to come.

the pawnbroker said...

you could pick up some nuggets of simple, penetrating philosophy, too. one that stuck with me was:

"cain't stand prosperity..."

that from an uneducated millwright who could barely write but could rebuild steam turbines with an unmatched exactitude. it was a favorite of his, used it to critique and admonish young guys who would lay out of work (also called layout men) to extend a weekend or whatever just as they were close to progressing to a higher pay scale, thus sabotaging their own advancement.

i've seen that behavior play out in people on every level, laborer to executive to intelligentsia to politician. ol' "bulldog" was a perceptive soul...


Anonymous said...

"cain't stand prosperity..."

I love it, some of those seasoned guys had a direct wit that was as much humorous as poignant and educational.

I used to get a kick out of one especially rough old Iron Worker whose nickname was "T-Bone", he would often quip: I only need 2 tools, a beater and a rubber, if u cant beat it, f**k it!

Not necessarily words to live by, but humorous all the same! :)