Friday, February 03, 2006

Payment Innovations Needed

Jim from Blueprint for Financial Prosperity has a post that is particularly interesting to me entitled "15M Japanese Don't Use Paper Currency." The reason that this topic holds a special place in my heart is that one of my pet peeves is people that are still writing checks at stores. We have credit cards, debit cards, or cash...those should be the only options that we have anymore. Checks take too long to write and then the cashier inevitably has to call over the manager to authorize it and it ends up holding the line up. I personally have not written a single check in about 7 years. Ever since my bank allowed bill pay there has not been a reason to write them. I never fully understand why some people still use them.

Now back to your regularly scheduled program. Jim's post states that "They use e-money which is accessible through a smart card or their mobile phone." Aside from the cool factor with that method...it sounds fairly convenient and easy. Why are we still in the stone age when it comes to payment options in America? The only interesting options that we have here are SpeedPass and E-Z Pass. The problem is going to be that everyone is going to develop their own easy payment system and we are going to have to carry a whole bunch of these tags around to pay at different places.

My proposal would be that one company develops a keychain sized USB-type drive that has a thumbprint activator. This drive would be able to hold information for many different stores and could be used at any of them. Here is an example: Go shopping at Stop and Shop and rather than carrying their stupid discount card, the info from it just gets downloaded into your drive. When you go to pay, you put your thumb on the drive and it sends your discount card info to the reader and then you can choose to pay using your credit card info that is also stored on the device. This device could be used anywhere that regular credit cards are accepted because the information is stored in there already and only accessible by your thumbprint. It would also have to hold your blockbuster card information since I hate carrying that thing around too.


So, where are all of the innovations for new payment options? Speed Pass from Mobil is a good start, but when will the credit card companies make something more inclusive? Hopefully something is just around the corner, because I can't take much more standing in line behind these check writers.
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