Smart Cards Too Little Too Late?

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Smart Cards are here, finally. It seems we have a problem and the emerging Smart Cards are here to solve it, or are they? Shaun Heal and Prakash Sethuraman explore the question.

Smart Cards – Reducing your back pocket bulge.

Comment by Shaun Heal

I have more cards than your average street magician.

Ok, slight exaggeration, although with debit/credit, store/loyalty, membership and gift cards I’m not far from having a full deck. A bulging wallet seems like a good problem to solve.Something interesting is on the horizon, Plastc and Coin are just two entrants in the race to simplify our cardage and reduce our back pocket bulge.

A card that can replace all of your cards, has multi step security, uses your current pins and can be paired with your phone. Sounds good?
It sounds seriously interesting to me and I’m not far off signing on the dotted line to become an early adopter.

The key question I will be asking before putting my own cash on the line is what would my banking clients say? Do they support this? Initial rumblings are that this is good for the banks, all payments continue to be routed via the original card provider, they don’t need to hand over a cut of their fees and there are no contactless transaction value limits.

Admittedly I’m not an Apple fanboy and I do challenge those who are to consider the problem we are solving and ask themselves the question, will I be able to remove those cards from my wallet? These cards have the potential to be a real winner and supporting future technologies like NFC, RFID and chip and pin, it doesn’t feel like an overnight stop gap.

When something is only a small step change from what we are used to and a consumer problem is solved, in fact when my problem is solved, it could be time to take notice.

Smart Cards – Too little, too late?

Comment shared by Prakash Sethuraman

In the Plastc world, the bank still issues the cards that they do today, the consumer loads each of their cards into Plastc and carries one card instead of many.

So far, so good. It aims to reduce my inconvenience of carrying so many cards. Do we really need that problem solving though?

Aside from the fact that the mobile wallet can reduce the number of cards I carry, on a device I already carry around, it also feels seamless, I already have my phone in my hand.

The ecosystem is catching up to support mobile payments, Wave and Pay sorted the NFC issue out. Visa, MasterCard and some of the banks are spending millions advertising it and key convenience retailers are supporting it.

By the end of the year, all the major banks are likely to be on board and as a major retailer you’ll be the odd one out if you do not support mobile wallets.

All of which raises a fundamental question. Has Plastc arrived on the scene a little too late and is it aiming to go mass market in solving an issue that isn’t really there? A minor concern that we’ll live with until cards are redundant all together.

My money is on the various flavours of mobile wallets that can now become mainstream.

The Android versus Apple battle will continue, but Google Wallet and Apple Pay will probably rule the world in next 3-5 years.

Carrying 3-4 cards is not an ‘issue’ people are likely to spend money on to solve for themselves, not having to go into their pocket to buy lunch, now that’s customer convenience.

Smart Cards – great idea, but the timing sucks.