Entertainment Weekly has twice now inserted an LCD screen into its paper magazine to show video ads. That's the growing pains that come when an entire medium is going through an upheaval--you get these little half-steps, a nod that, well, this thing we've used for a long time? It probably won't be around much longer. But that new things is maybe scary, or expensive, or not quite ready yet, so let's try combining the two.
A new credit card from Mastercard, as reported by the BBC, is going through those same growing pains. The card, first rolling out in Singapore before the rest of the world sees it, has a built-in greyscale LCD screen and a number pad. Mastercard will mostly use those features for security purposes, at first, though eventually they plan to roll out bonuses like loyalty rewards and coupons.
Also today, Starbucks announced the rollout of Square Wallet to 7,000 of its shops nationwide. Square Wallet is an app for smartphones that lets you use your phone to pay--it provides a QR code, which is scanned by the point-of-service machine. Square Wallet is just as secure; you can type in a security code on a phone even more easily than on a weird hybrid credit card. And it serves the purpose of moving us towards a wallet-free future much more effectively than the Mastercard.
Square Wallet is actually also an in-between technology; I think that near-field communication, or NFC, will either be the tech or be the basis of the tech that eventually replaces our credit cards. (Our primer on NFC can be found here.) NFC payments let you simply tap your phone to a point-of-service machine rather than opening an app and scanning a visual code on the phone's screen--it's more convenient and faster than a QR code. Square Wallet is a slightly diluted vision of the future; it has about one and a half steps more than the eventual solution will have, but it at least resembles the future. Also, it's in Starbucks, and the Square Wallet app can be used by pretty much any smartphone, unlike NFC, which is only available in a select few Android and Windows phones. So people can experiment with this fairly easy, nonthreatening thing, and soon when the time comes to cut up all your credit cards and throw your wallet in a box in the basement? They'll be ready.
The Mastercard isn't the last gasp of the credit card, but it's, I don't know, a tired and defeated wheeze. It's a pretty clear sign that we've taken the plastic rectangle as far as it can go.
I think there are still serious security considerations before this tech would be usable, especially with near field communication.
Smart phones are not very secure to begin with, and people don't keep them secure. They are not encrypted. Any wireless communication is inherently less secure.
Security is always an afterthought, a band-aid on such things. Call me old, but I'm not going to trust it just yet.
I like these new bank cards with integrated NFC more. So you can just wipe your card over the counter to pay. You can either setup the card to have you put in a code or let it pull the money automatically only having to press the OKE button at the counter.
Dead wrong on this one. Credit Cards will definitely be in use for many years to come. Baring an unforeseen first contact and acquisition of alien technology.
Contactless payment cards:
A phone option with a code to unlock does keep a vital human step.
Yes, removing the human step does save time, but without physical human input at each point of sale, the transaction security goes down dramatically.
That, for example, is why most gasoline pumps now require a zipcode entry with a credit card purchase (to reduce fraud from a programable card being guess-numbered as easily).
Still, worries about stolen phones are truely no greater than worries about stolen wallets.
I, for one, prefer cash carried by myself with my CCW for security - since that comes with a physicality most scam artists are not willing to overcome.
Just stick a damn chip in my head already and do away with wallets altogether. Seriously, I lose the frickin thing like three times a week, just give me the brain surgery and let's get this sh*t over with.
Incredibly insightful article and dead on right re: NFC. NFC offers security features others do not. Square stores my CC information in the cloud (bad) and requires me to go through several steps to even open the app so I can perform an optical scan of a code stored on my mobile phone. There is no security even close to NFC (e.g., Google Wallet). Square must adopt NFC, which it may well do, to survive.
smart phone apps and NFC seems a giant step backwards
Security -- maybe NFC is secure -- maybe not. There's definitely an area where rf signals involving commercial transactions are frequently happening.
This is supposed to be range limited, but it may not be entirely true. A correctly designed antenna and receiver might be able to eavesdrop from some distance away -- not good.
This also replaces my free debit/credit cards with a complex, fragile(especially around water), and expensive device. I have no other need for anything like that.
( I use a pay as you go phone for emergencies).
Also, now all of your credit info is on this device -- which is often carried in a position where it's vulnerable to theft or just loss.
I hope that this doesn't come to pass for a loooong time
As institutions in the world that store our Credit card are always getting hacked themselves, maybe our bank or credit card company should just issue us NEW credit card numbers more often, there by voiding the old stored data that has been stolen\hacked.
With my own bank, once a year, I cancel my own credit card and request me to send me a new one with a new number. A user can request their number to be changed as often as they like. It just means for a week, you are without your credit card. I accept this inconvenience to enhance my own financial security.
Periodically, the user should automatically be force to update their password.
“Just stick a damn chip in my head already and do away with wallets altogether. Seriously, I lose the frickin thing like three times a week”
May I suggest a leather strap (about 8mm) for the „lost wallet“ problem. I have this problem with my keys. So I keep them on a leather strap that is long enough for me to open a door with and not take them off the strap.
Just another way they can charge you a service fee.
Two words: Katrina. Sandy. You can still conduct business using pen, paper and cash, but if we really enslave ourselves to convenience so hard that we give up cash in hand, then we will deserve the pain and sorrow an all electronic system will deliver. And, do you really want to rely on someone else entirely to prove you have the amount of money you say you do?
And oh btw, as someone else said, another way to revenue stream you using your own money AND another way for the govt to track and tax your own money. Relying so heavily on renting rich people's money funds corporate socialism. Time to wake up folks.
Articles like this are what's making PopSci fall more and more into Tabloid status.
Get real guys. It's not going to happen. We still have fax machines, which were supposed to be obsolete 20 years ago, just because Japanese businesses won't switch.
Unless every American consumer carries a 5" or smaller smartphone in 5 years, businesses are not going to switch away from credit cards and risk losing costumers.
Besides, as a consumer who actually uses Square and LevelUp, I've found those systems to be very-gimmicky and cumbersome. It takes 2-10 times as long to complete a Square or LevelUp transaction (that uses QC or NFC) than it takes to complete a regular credit-card transaction. The only reason I'd ever use one of them is if I get a discount for using them, or if I have no other choice (e.g. cash-only seller).
Until a bluetooth-based brain chip invented so that I don't have to take out a device and navigate through menus, nothing will be more convenient than using a credit card.