I treated myself to a small weekend trip a couple weeks ago. Second stop of my first night there, I pass an ATM and remember I have no cash. I open my wallet and my debit card is gone. I check my pockets, retrace in my head…I just used it an hour ago. I must have left it at the bar. I go back, and they don’t have it. An hour later, I’m back at the hotel; emptied my wallet, checked every pocket 37 times, but it was gone. I call and cancel the card, but FIRST, I checked my bank app and everything looks in order, right down to the charge I made an hour ago (technology wins again!). So I call and cancel my card. I’m annoyed. I need cash at the start of a fun weekend.
So how did that impact my weekend? It didn’t. I forgot about it actually. I used my credit card when needed and a friend loaned me some cash for my pocket. Two weeks later, I’m still waiting on my new card and I’m struck by how much this wasn’t an issue for something I thought I relied upon daily. We all DEPEND on those little pieces of plastic, yet I’ve been mildly inconvenienced at most. I can use my phone at my small regional bank to get money out of the ATM and my credit card for anything else. My only hassle will be updating automatic payments with the new card information when it arrives.
Which got me thinking…when are we going to get rid of the plastic altogether? It’s really just a vehicle for a delivery of a unique numerical ID. And although I love digital wallets, I want more. So what is my wish for the next innovation in financial services? Let’s just go ahead and sweep away the last vestiges of personal privacy and let me pay with my fingerprint. I no longer want a piece of plastic or a credit card number to put in a digital wallet.
I still remember when paying with a credit card was a novelty at most locations. If you used your card, sales clerks had to make a phone call to verify your card. If they were in a hurry, they produced a paper book full of credit card numbers that was updated once a month and scanned that book to look to see if your credit card was flagged. I think about that sometimes when I hear that five seconds is too long for the card reader to verify the chip in your card. Someday I want to write a blog that references how odd it was that we had to call a bank to cancel a piece of plastic. I suppose there might still be a need to periodically call to cancel a lost finger, but that’s probably more a 911 call than your bank’s lost card number.
From a marketing perspective, I’m truly excited by the innovations we’re seeing in our industry in the payments sector. Plus, being in a financial services hub, we’re very fortunate to get to see some of those innovations very early on. Three years ago, we were helping Barclaycard rollout its new chip card to its customers with a cool new video and microsite. Hard to believe that those chip cards everyone has these days, were brand new (to the US) a mere three years ago. When we made the video, we actually had to “green screen” the card with a fake piece of plastic and overlay the card art and chip in post-production because there were no chip cards around at that point.
We’re very fortunate to have helped some of the biggest banks in the world with their customers on all sorts of technology launches and initiatives. From websites to PURLS to simply getting customers to go paperless. As the industry grows and evolves, so do we and the last couple years have taken us into financial app design and the digital wallet space.
But we’re still waiting for our first biometric payments project. So please, send us your RFP for your new fingerprint payment system – we’re eager to get started! Similarly, feel free to send me your conspiracy theories on why this is a horrible idea. I will use them in the brainstorming meeting when we start work on this project.