But, I still need plastic, right?

posted Mike McCrary 3/4/2016 in Banking

What is the future of mobile wallets and contactless payments?

Still waiting for the explosion? The big move when contactless payments [or something] overwhelms usage statistics and card-stampers are looking for other things to do with their presses? Still waiting. 

There’s a huge push-pull going on here.  Yet there isn’t enough on the push side to drive massive change.  Not enough of us are walking into merchants and saying “No contactless pay?! Sorry, I’m going elsewhere.”  At the end of the day, I’m going to buy my cup of coffee, even if I have to walk across the street to an ATM.  The push comes from those who stand to make money (Apple, Samsung, Android), but even that isn’t enough to push the average retailer into buying more expensive equipment.

Why?  Like many, I’ve played around with near field communication, and I even got a Stratos Card (if you want to be the coolest person in any checkout line, it’s a must).  Even with all of the newest technology in hand (or on wrist), the question remains; is the current process broken?  On one hand, no.  Whipping out a card and giving it a quick swipe (or inserting for an EMV read) isn’t difficult.  It’s reliable, quick, and secure.  What IS broken is the fact that I, like many, are done with carrying around the George Costanza wallet jammed with cards, gift cards, rewards cards, and membership cards.  Imagine all of that loaded into a digital wallet!

So if you are a card-ditcher like me, who’s losing out?  I think we are, and the retailers are as well.  I don’t get rewards or perks from the places I frequent – lugging around a card to use just so they can market to me isn’t worth the reward.  The retailers in this equation lose out because they’re not getting my information and are not able to lure me back for another visit. 

Someday, it will happen.  You’ll be standing in a check-out line, and the person in front of you will start rummaging through their purse or wallet, fingering through stacks of plastic looking for the right one, while everybody else rolls their eyes and taps their feet.  Until then, let’s agree to continue to “nudge”.  I won’t bail out on local business, but maybe a quizzically-raised eyebrow and a “Hmm, no contactless pay?  Curious,” from enough of us will be enough to get the ball rolling.   

Lincoln Savings Bank, Member FDIC.


Contactless payment:  credit cards and debit cards, smarts cards, or other devices, including smartphones and mobile devices, that use radio-frequency identification (RFID) or near field communication (NFC) for making secure payments

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