Monday, January 24, 2011

Same planet, different worlds.

I have some friends who still prefer to do all their transactions in cash. I, myself, am not that hidebound; I like my debit cards, for instance. I can punch in my PIN a lot faster than the average cashier these days can count out correct change while moving their lips as though they were telling the misbaha.

However, according to CNN this morning, I'm as out of touch as an 8-Track collector:
"Mobile payment is going to get really interesting and is going to see a lot of activity in 2011," said George Peabody, director of emerging technologies at Mercator Advisory Group. "We're going to start seeing more and more people leaving their homes without their wallets."
Yeah, George, I'm sure the State Trooper will be impressed when I show him a .jpg of my toter's permit on my smartphone. Especially since I don't even have a smartphone, and have no real plans to get one in the immediate future. It's smug predictions like yours that make me feel all reactionary and want to retreat to an all-cash position myself.


genedunn said...

First, I wouldn't swipe your debit as a debit, always tell the clerk credit. The store doesn't like it, because they get hit with a transaction fee by the card issuer, but it is MUCH more secure. When you are at Podunk's A#1 Gas and Go, you have no idea where the cord from that pin keypad goes, or how good they are at shoulder-surfing with the camera that is hanging over your head.
Second, "MobilePay" has been a coming attraction for years, but has never quite gotten off the ground. Too many providers, too many retailers, too many devices, and not enough standardization or security. It may get here, but it ain't gonna be 2011...
As for a jpg of your carry permit... I always thought t-shirts would be nice ;)

staghounds said...

Plus, cash is the only thing they have to take.

It's always surprised me that merchants don't offer a two or three per cent cash discount. If I had a business I certainly would.

And in England, banking cash has become such a problem for some businesses that they just sell it to me on my credit card. Even paying the merchant's fee to the card companies, they still come out ahead.

Go figure.

McVee said...

Meh. They're lobbyists and have a horse in this race.
Same old story, they want you to feel like your missing something in your life and go out and buy a smart phone cause that's the in thing.
Sorry, but I don't need to be that connected Mr Lobbyist.
(Oh, and I'm sure Mr. Trooper will appreciate when you reach into you pocket or purse to grab said smart phone to share the jpg. of requested license and proof of insurance.)

Tam said...


"When you are at Podunk's A#1 Gas and Go, you have no idea where the cord from that pin keypad goes, or how good they are at shoulder-surfing with the camera that is hanging over your head."

Oh, definitely.

Further, you do realize that the closing clerk at the Gas'n'Gulp, depending on which system they use, gets a list of every credit card # used that day, even ones swiped out at the pumps...

Anonymous said...

Soon, you won't need the cash, or the card, the jpg or even the smartphone; that'll all be programmed right into your little embedded microchip. Just your presence at the pump will give them all the information "they" need to sell you gas, and maybe run your credit and a criminal background check while they've got you in the system.

Not in 2011 maybe, but "soon".

Paranoid? What? You talkin' to me or about me?


Alan J. said...

You're right, AT, for those who want them the human version of a dog's microchip is already available and being used to make payments in a few locations in Europe. I remember reading about it a few months ago and thought even then about the security concerns for protecting your bank account. As for this new Smartphone payment system, I'll bet that for anyone under 20 now, it'll be as common for them as using a regular credit/debit card is for us now. People are always worried about security issues with new technology, and if you remember back when credit cards were being introduced, the average person then was worried about the guy at the gas station keeping one of the mimeograph copies from the card swiping gadget to steal a customers card information. Thieves are always looking for ways to make an easy buck from new technology, that's the one thing that will never change.

Trivia question: Does anyone know what those old credit card impression machines were called?

rickn8or said...

AT--That microchip implanted in your forehead or right hand?

Tam said...

Alan J.,

We called them "swipers". (Yes, I remember cashiering back when you took a manual impression of the card and then had to look it up in the "bad card" book manually...)

aczarnowski said...

Technology disruption is always over estimated in the short term and under estimated in the long term. It'll happen eventually. But these kinds of things often take a generation. Credit cards were like this too.

BryanP said...


It's always surprised me that merchants don't offer a two or three per cent cash discount. If I had a business I certainly would.

I'm pretty sure that Visa/MC et al specifically forbid that in the agreement you sign with them to process their card payments.

Stranger said...

From experience, I would not have a debit card. I know too many people whose accounts have been cleaned out in minutes.

A credit card may cost, but the protection they give is well worth the small cost.

Microchips? So you can stand next to a "grabber" in a line and discover your personal info has been stolen? Thanks but no thanks.


Stretch said...

Technology reached its peak with the #2 pencil, the DC-3 and the Colt 1911A1.

Guffaw in AZ said...

@Stranger...they're now selling wallets shielded against 'grabber' capture. Of course, the BGs will develop more powerful tools to bypass those. Eventually, you'll know when your info has been compromised, as you will develop some kind of cancer from the scan.
Who was it who said paranoia is just a higher state of conciousness?

jason said...

@rickn8tor: My thoughts exactly. Scary stuff....

Anonymous said...

Stranger, that is what tinfoil hats are for. Duh.


NotClauswitz said...

Why all the hatin' on Credit Cards?
Some gas-pumps (Arco) around here offer a different credit vs. cash price.
I saw somethn' on the ironical Tee-Vee about schoolgirls in Finland who ran-up the family bill using Nokia phones to buy pop and chocolate out of the school vending-machine - but that was a few years ago and Nokia has taken a big hit in market-share around here and just canceled a smartphone launch.
That will probably turn around when Apple goes tits-up when Steve Jobs croaks and all their stuff gets older and older and dies on the vine.

Silver the Evil Chao said...

Japan's already done stuff with mobile payments. Stuff like having your phone scanned to be used as a train pass.

Rob Reed said...

Tam said "We called them "swipers". (Yes, I remember cashiering back when you took a manual impression of the card and then had to look it up in the "bad card" book manually...)"

I thought I was the only one who remembered that! We were offered a $50 reward if we found a "bad" card, so I always looked, but never had a hit.

Man, that was back when credit card transactions were WAAY slower than cash transactions. Funny how it's the other way now.

As far as the debit card/credit card thing, I refuse to have a debit card or even a ATM card as it can be used as a debit card. Instead we pay everything on credit cards and pay off the balance in full every month.

The $50 liability limit on fradulant charges is much better than the risk of someone emptying your account with a debit card.

Rob (Trebor)

Sigivald said...

He said "more and more people", not everyone.

For people who don't carry and aren't driving, it seems not too unreasonable.

Contactless phone-based payment has been big in Japan for years now.

(Or, for that matter, for people who carry ID and permits separately from The Money, the latter being indicated by "the wallet".

Sounds weird, but I've seen lots of people just carry their driver's license around in a pocket, bare.)

Stranger: Modern RFID-based credit cards are encrypted (3DES plus one-time codes for each transaction, since 3DES is insufficient in itself), last I checked.

Plus, of course, he still can't get the CVV off the back to use it most places, even if he had an RFID reader with a good antenna and you didn't store the card in its foil pouch.

You're more likely to have someone steal your wallet than have your card's chip "cloned" - or they can snap a picture or magswipe the card while paying a restaurant bill.

It always amazes me how people will be worried about things like RFID chips in the card and then hand their physical card itself to a complete stranger who takes it out of their presence for minutes at a time without a second glance.

Jeffro said...

No smartphone? Aahhh, the Dark Side of Tech will get you yet, Tam.

The hooks were set with Twitter and Facebook - let's face it, you're doomed. :-)

rickn8or said...

Tam, Rob Reed: Now I really feel ancient; I used to print checks for a living.

(Checks? Little pieces of paper you wrote the amount of the purchase and your life's history on. Then the merchant would treat them just like money. No. REALLY.)

Anonymous said...

I pay by check or cash for most things, credit card if necessary. Don't have a debit or ATM card (yet. May have to get an ATM for Europe this summer.). I don't trust my memory enough to keep track of all the debit amounts so I can balance my accounts.

Ian Argent said...

Druther pay by phone than any other token (including funny-colored pieces of more-cloth-than-paper). But then, I'm more fanatic about checking retention on my smartphone than some carriers are on their piece.

That having been said, I hope some thought towards security from the beginning is put into place.

Brad K. said...


Remember when they changed the laws on checking accounts, that only checks that the Federal Reserve check clearing system could process were legal?

Since what we call 'checking' accounts were originally defined as 'demand' accounts, any written document expressing a demand that the bank pay someone from their account worked just fine.

Until a bozo wrote his 'check' on a watermelon. That ended that. It offended the Feds. The watermelon didn't fit in their COBOL-powered check sorters, or in the bank's Optical Character Recognition imprinters.

Notice that the government keeps doing its best to discourage cash transactions. I suppose it is just coincidence that the IRS/Homeland Security got access - no cause or warrant needed - to every record of every transaction of every account in every bank in the US. Rahm Emmanuel must have stock in Canadian banks. Or maybe Hilary is pushing money to her homies in Mexico.

I recall when the Feds decided that AT&T was too big a monopoly to leave alone. But they haven't said a word about VISA/MC and their ubiquitous money card/credit card and debit card presence. That bit of 2-3% tax on the economy, time and time again, should be viewed with much alarm. After all - what if Iran or China - or BATFE - got to the central VISA computers?

Anonymous said...

Seems to me I recently read about warrantless searches of mobile phones (smart or otherwise) in Cali being blessed by the courts. This would now imply a purchase history the owner has racked-up.

Purchased anything that might catch their attention with that phone? It’s not like tossing or shredding the receipt any more. That history is with you whenever you carry your phone.


Ian Argent said...

@J - just like you can "erase" a credit card transaction by shredding the receipt? Or the cops needing a warrant to search my bank records?