A Business Technology Place

My First EMV and the Girl With the Dragon Tattoos

solid-black-tribal-dragon-tattoo-on-forearmSelf-serve station at Wal-mart. I had a gallon of transmission fluid and some aftershave. One of those late night shops.

Swiped my card, and got a prompt about hitting “OK” with instructions.

I looked again and wondered if I had swiped the non-mag side, so I swiped again carefully.

Same error message. I read it more carefully and saw it said “insert in bottom.”

I realized it was my new Amex chip card and I needed to do the new insert thing, but the self-serve station was hanging vertical, which made that awkward.

That’s when the young girl with the dragon tattoos around her forearms started walking over to me. She held out her hand to take the card from me.

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Do you take this kind of money?

Jeb Cashin - Gravatar

When I pay my barber $20 cash, I don’t ask him if that money will work or where he banks.

When I pay the dogsitter with a $25 check (dogs outrank my head), I don’t ask her where she banks.

But to use this new P2P mobile payments system, clearXchange, I’m going to have to ask those questions.

WF BOA Mobile Payments

I realize that between Wells Fargo and Bank of America, you are getting a big piece of America. Maybe bigger than Texas! But creating a mobile payment system that works for just some banks is like a state creating their own currency. But maybe worse, because at least a lot of my transactions (barber, dogsitter) are happening within my state borders.

Are you a WF or BOA customer? Have you tried this? Will you?

Guest blogger Jeb Cashin thinks about banking at Harland Clarke by day… and often at night.

A note from Bob Williams – I’ve known Jeb for about 15 years and we share a common employer. He’s been a colleague, an internal customer, and my direct manager during that time. Many thanks to him for providing this thoughtful and entertaining look at the landscape of payments. 

E Pluribus Unum and Change

New Penny
New TailPayPal gives Home Depot the Finger
PayPal gives Home Depot the finger. (A good thing.)

I don’t like clutter in my car. So after a family trip, a penny in my cup holder stood out along with a straw wrapper. Kelly’s milkshake.

I did not recognize the tail-side design. The familiar Lincoln memorial had been replaced by a thirteen stripe shield bearing “E Pluribus Unum.” Out of many, one.

I missed the change. (Get it?)

I think I missed the change (circa 2010) because I have gotten away from change. The two places where I used change most were the office lunch room cafeteria and the office vending machines. The former takes cash and checks, so to quit accumulating change, I went to checks using a secondary free checking account from Ally. Checks have gotten very efficient to process, getting converted quickly from paper to digital. Family checks are now deposited at the kitchen table using an iPhone or iPad. However, I doubt Ally is making much off my lunch money.

The second place I used change was our office vending machines. A little over a year ago, our vending machines got cellular antennas and magnetic / RFID card readers. The prices went up to fund the change, so my number of transactions went down, but I’ve been tapping my Amex smart chip ever since. No change.

These checks and these RFID card readers cost merchants money. There has been resistance in the U.S. to install new RFID equipment when “swiping” plastic works fine. What problem does tapping really solve? I think it solves the problem of card reader salesmen quotas.

Enter PayPal at Home Depot. I spotted PayPal at Home Depot just last week. What do I need? My finger, my phone number, and my PayPal pin number. I don’t need anything plastic, magnetic, paper, leather, and I don’t need a phone.

I don’t need batteries. My finger runs on food from the cafeteria and the vending machines.

What equipment do the merchants need to install? Nothing. PayPal ties into existing PIN pads. No RFID readers, no phone readers, no squares, and no triangles. It’s low tech. It’s simple.

There are a lot of companies and a lot of technologies out to transform the payment landscape: Square, Google Wallet, Apple’s iWallet, CashEdge, and even my company’s own DPXPay. But will PayPal’s simple finger, no battery, merchant-friendly approach beat them all? E Pluribus Unum? Out of many, one?

Guest blogger Jeb Cashin counts pennies at Harland Clarke by day… and often at night.

A note from Bob Williams – I’ve known Jeb for about 15 years and we share a common employer. He’s been a colleague, an internal customer, and my direct manager during that time. Many thanks to him for providing this thoughtful and entertaining look at the landscape of payments. 


Putting perspective on P2P payments

P2P payments are coming. But who is using them?
Just how ready are we for instant P2P payments? It’s all the buzz in the financial world and players are scrambling to get in the space. P2P, or person-to-person, payments have been around for awhile. I started using them with PayPal for some eBay transactions years ago.  PayPal has advanced the P2P features over the years. If you haven’t tried their mobile interfaces then it’s worth your time


The original P2P payment

I tried to get some family members using PayPal for P2P payments, but….
When I suggested some family members try PayPal with me for some money exchange you would have thought I was speaking a foreign language. Maybe so, but I didn’t talk about the technology as much as I did the benefits: Instant payment, no cash,uses email address, no fees. Habits are hard to change, and that includes how we make payments to other individuals. At least with those in my circle of relationships it appears they are  making P2P payments with cash and check.

Are electronic P2P payments impersonal?
I wonder if wider acceptance is hindered because this type of payment is viewed as impersonal? Giving cash or writing a check forces an interaction. It’s giving something you have. Almost like a personal mark. Sending a P2P payment could be invisible. The recipient just receives an email with notification of receipt.

Or is it a trust issue?
It could also be that people don’t trust the delivery of the electronic delivery of a P2P payment.  Cash and checks provide a physical artifact representing the payment. I’ve heard some of the older generation in my family use this argument when talking about electronic bill pay. They like the paper trail it generates. It gives them a feeling of security and trust.

Reality is, we don’t make many P2P payments.
How often do we pay someone versus paying an organization or a business? For me, not much. Even as I think back to college and high school days, I don’t remember large number of money exchanges with friends. Most times people paid their share.

So when I put this in perspective. I think P2P payments are a good option to have for financial transactions. But they are just a small part of a full range of payment options that we’ll all need to conduct our daily transactions.

How do you make Person-to-Person Payments?


Back in September I tagged an article about CashEdge and their offering of P-to-P payments by using the recipients email address or phone number.   Its part of the the Intelligent Money Movement platform offered by CashEdge.  My first thought when I read the article was PayPal.  I’ve got a PayPal account that I use for the occasional eBay transaction.  I can send a P-to-P payment to any other PayPal user if I have their email address.

Yet I’ve only used it for that purpose once outside of an eBay transaction.  I paid a co-worker for lunch via PayPal.  We had agreed on this method in advance, if for nothing else to just to go through the experience.  In that space while the PayPal transaction is convenient, it does require the receiver to pay a fee for each transaction.

The CashEdge product is intended to be part of your online banking experience through a financial institution.  The transaction fee for this type of service is often paid by your financial institution, unless they choose to charge a fee to offset or recoup their costs.

So the question I’m left with is how do consumers prefer to make person-to-person payments? Cash is always nice, if you have it.  If you’re like me though, you rarely carry cash.   Do you prefer to write a paper check?  Do you think about electronic options such as PayPal or an electronic funds transfer? Is that convenient for both you and the recipient?

I found this quote on the CashEdge product brochure for TransferNow Third Party

“ 79% of consumers are likely to use online funds transfer services to send money online to someone they know instead of writing a check, sending them a check via online bill pay, or using cash.”
– CashEdge Consumer Survey, 2008

Do you agree with this?  Is it now socially acceptable to tell the baby-sitter that you’ll send them an electronic payment?  Can ask little Molly for her email address so you can pay for those Girl Scout cookies?


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