Why Mobile Payments Will Fail

If you aren’t familiar with the concept of mobile payments, here’s a quick little rundown of how they work.

First, you must sign up with any number of services out there such as Google Wallet or Isis Wallet. These serve as your “bank” in which you can deposit money or have it transferred from your “real bank,” the one that you can touch and walk into. The services I’ve used have also given me up to $30 on my accounts just to get things going and to see how convenient it is. Free money.

Second, you need to have a compatible smartphone equipped with NFC (Near Field Communications). Using your virtual bank’s app, this allows it to communicate with the point-of-sale PIN pad and will deduct the purchase total from the balance on your account.

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Finally, you need to find a retailer that is capable of processing payments via NFC and more often than not, each service’s website or app will find every one that is around you.

And that’s the start of the trouble.

Don’t get me wrong; I love the concept of mobile payments. I’ve used it on a number of occasions and it’s quick and easy – when it works. I’ll get to that later.

But first, let’s look at vendors. One of the first things I noticed was that it’s not everywhere and mostly, not in places I’d frequent. For example, looking at one app’s map of vendors, the following are listed:

  • A smoke shop
  • Dry cleaners
  • An eyebrow threading service

I’m pret-ty sure I won’t be using any of those soon, and the places where you’d think mobile payments would be handy don’t have it. Grocery stores would be one of those places and there’s only one local chain that is mobile wallet-friendly (and it’s not my company). In short, there’s just not enough useful NFC POS vendors around. Not even any of our local coffee houses, including that evil Seattle-based giant, accepts them. On the other hand, there are some soda vending machines that accept mobile payments and that could come in handy should you not have any cold, hard cash on you.

The second and final reason I think this concept will fail is this: not enough vendor education. I’ve been to places that accept mobile payments and when it came time to pay, the employees looked at me as if I was Mr. Spock standing there with a lightsaber (yeah, I know, blah blah blah). While there are only a handful of places that do accept them, finding an employee who actually knows how to process them, let alone knows what the hell it is, is indeed rare.

This happened to me yesterday at The Flame Broiler. I placed my order and when it came time to pay, I showed the cashier my phone indicating that I wanted to pay via my mobile wallet.

Deer in headlights. Complete silence. Utter disbelief. Smeckeldorfed.

They had absolutely no clue how to run it so I had to pull out my debit card and pay with real, physical plastic. I wanted to avoid this because I got $20 added to my virtual account when I opened it so I thought, “Hey, free meal. Dinner is on me tonight!”

Yeah. No. And this wasn’t the first time this happened to me, either.

While a great concept, I get the feeling that these problems will ultimately lead to its demise. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I’m Down

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There’s a corner in my den that is dedicated to my creativity, a place where I am surrounded by the things that bring me comfort and peace. It’s the desk where I draw, do calligraphy and most importantly, where I sit with my laptop and compose blog posts.

But things have changed.

In case you hadn’t noticed, I haven’t blogged much lately. That’s because my somewhat trusty Dell laptop took a serious dump (read: failed hard drive with very minimal use) and is no longer working. In fact I’m composing this post on my Samsung Galaxy Tab because I don’t want to use our main computer in the living room, even if it makes blogging easier (with the help of Windows Live Writer). I prefer the privacy of the den when I write.

Composing posts on a tablet, while comfortable when relaxing in my lounge chair, can also be annoying. It’s got a smaller screen, the WordPress app is completely different than using Windows Live Writer, and inserting pictures can be cumbersome. So if you don’t see many pictures on upcoming posts, then that’s why: they are a pain to work with.

At any rate, in saying all that, I will continue to use my tablet as a means to blog whether I like it or not as I have no immediate plans to replace the laptop. I’m sure my solitary reader/subscriber will appreciate the effort.

Thanks, Mom!*

And oh, I was supposed to be in Las Vegas right now for a wedding on Saturday but it just didn’t work out financially. Even for only two days, it’s pretty much out of reach for someone like me who is working part-time and it only gets worse when you factor in gas and meals. So while I would have liked to have gone, it just didn’t work. The only thing it got me (and Ann) was deleted from the groom’s Facebook friends but I think I’m okay with that. I’m a resilient guy. Some aren’t.

Moving on.

*Mom really isn’t a subscriber but you probably knew that already.

Disposable Socks

houdini__spanI’m currently doing laundry but taking a break to discuss an important matter.

My socks.

I wear them once and they seemingly disappear into thin air, never to be reunited with their mate ever again. In that respect, they are disposable: use once and throw away.

But the thing is that I don’t throw them away. They just never come back once in the laundry, as if they were trapped here longing for a more meaningful relationship with my feet and I just couldn’t provide it, so one made a run for it.

Granted, I shouldn’t complain too much about the wearing of socks during the summer months in California since I tend to wear one of my four pairs of flip-flops* during said period of time, but come on. YOU HAD ONE JOB, SOCKS.

It’s also worth mentioning that the only pairs of socks that do find their mates are always my black ones, or the ones I wear to work. The whites – I wear those for running – and greys are gone, gone, gone. This was even after I went through a bunch of mismatched pairs and threw them out, replacing them with eight new pairs of New Balance socks.

No dice. Maybe my socks are trying to tell me something: work more and run less.

Stupid socks.

We even tried a lingerie bag in the hopes of keeping them together, but the bag’s zipper was snagging all my pantyhose so I had to stop using it. Ahem.

At any rate, yeah. You just read a blog post about my socks.

I just wonder if the great Harry Houdini this problem.

 

*Before you think that $50+ is too much for flip-flops, then you’ve never worn a pair of Rainbows. Meh. It’s a California thing.