Does NFC solve a problem that does not exist? This was the question posed by Jordan Crook in a recent story on TechCrunch. While the article makes some compelling arguments regarding NFC, I disagree that contactless payments will not be a “more efficient form of living and transacting.”
The article continues: “You grab your credit card out of your wallet in your pocket, and swipe it through the reader (or in some cases tap it, just like the phone). In the case of NFC, you grab your phone out of your pocket, open Google Wallet (or whatever), and tap it to the reader. It’s the same exact motion.”
I’ve been thinking about this for a few days and feel that focusing on the ‘motion’ alone is missing the larger point. For example, it required basically the same ‘motion’ to pop a cassette tape into the player as it did to do the same with an 8 track. Later, it was the same ‘motion’ to put a CD or DVD or BluRay in the player.
Though the motion was the same, the arrival of the CD ushered in the era of digitized music, which in turn set the stage for mp3’s, which was the precursor to all the streaming services we enjoy today. And we no longer have to hit play.
I look at the motion of the credit card swipe in much the same manner. Granted, using a credit card is not terribly inefficient from a motion standpoint, but it is an ‘analog’ step in a world that demands that everything be digital.
Think about how often you are asked “Would you like a copy of your receipt?” I usually decline. Why would I want to carry around this analog scrap of paper? Especially since it stores little information of value, beyond what the total charge was.
In a world frictionless payment, be it via NFC or an app like Pay with Square, the clerk will no longer have to waste their breath or my time. The receipt will be automatically sent to my phone with detailed SKU information.
Or have you ever had a clerk tell you they need to swipe your card again because the “card reader is acting up?” Bygones in the NFC era. Of course, much like a fact that compact discs get scratched and skip, there will likely be some technical glitches as contactless payment is rolled out en masse, but these problems will be worked out in time. You never hear a song skip on Pandora or Spotify.
I agree with Jordan that it will be a challenge to get merchants to make the switch. After all, there are still merchants, like the Sisters Bakery in Central Oregon, that don’t even take credit cards! That doesn’t keep us from stopping there on our way to Sunriver.
For Marionberry Pie that good, we’d pay with wooden nickels if we had to. . . .