New credit cards came in the mail last week and we had a chance to use them over the weekend. Yes, we already have both iPhone and Watch setup to use Apple Pay, and each holds a couple of frequently used credit cards. These new credit cards came with a chip. Someone somewhere put up a great PowerPoint presentation and built a spreadsheet which showed various financial and retail executives how cool and safe and wonderful credit cards with chips can be. They’re not.
Compared to Apple Pay, everything else is lame attempt to maintain status quo, or suck you into a proprietary tracking system which records what you buy, where you bought it, all designed to track you incessantly for the sake of greed and profits, not customer convenience.
The credit card with a chip and a trip to Walmart is a perfect example of such stupidity and greed personified. Walmart was busy during our trip and the check out lines were long. One after the other, a customer would whip out a credit card, try to swipe it in the scanner, only to have the clerk tell them to use the chip side which holds the card until an obnoxious beep goes off. That process to give the merchant money– compared to Apple Pay– is a big time suck.
The woman behind the counter told us that sometimes, when they’re very busy, they turn off the chip readers. Why? They’re too slow, have too many steps, and people behind the card bearer get upset.
Compare that stupid, greedy, mis-managed methodology to a trip to Macy’s. The girl behind the counter rang up the purchases and I waved my watch over the wireless NFC terminal, felt a little buzz, heard a little beep, and the entire process was done in barely two seconds.
Other than time and convenience, what is the difference between the two purchase and payment methodologies?
Macy’s recognized a good thing, and since the company caters to customers above the average Walmart shopper, figured out that ease-of-use in the purchase and payment process was worth a little less data collection.
Walmart remains stupid and greedy and promoted a proprietary payment system for years; one that was widely criticized, that never took off because of the number of steps required to secure a transaction, and doesn’t mind inconveniencing more than one customer at a time (the one buying, the ones waiting in line). Why? To save money on each transaction, and to collect more data about their customers.
Is it any wonder that shopping in Walmart these days is much like shopping at Sears or K-Mart?
Apple’s approach to Apple Pay has been to find that sweet spot between security, ease-of-use, and profit. Apple makes money on each transaction, but the amount remains relatively small, otherwise financial institutions and merchants would not have allowed the Mac maker into the game. What Apple has done is show the retail industry how transactions should be done– fast, easy, secure. What merchants don’t like is the lack of control, the privacy, and the inability to track the customer’s transaction history.
Remember this. Apple Pay could be a choice at almost any retailer. If a merchant does not have Apple Pay it’s because of choice, and somewhere in the decision mix is stupidity, greed, and irresponsible management.
Now, Apple Pay is online, and merchant websites will begin to take the payment process with similar ease-of-use. Most of us buy online with even worse methodology than walking into a retailer. We have to fish out the credit card, fill in the information fields one line at a time, do it again because some number is always off, and repeat that process with most online purchases. Amazon makes it easy with a one-click process, and Apple Pay online will work much the same way, except you still need an iPhone.
After all, that’s how Apple makes money.