IF YOU WANT high comedy, try buying something at my local drugstore.
As you wait in line with your razor blades and Softsoap, some other poor soul will swipe their credit card through the reader on the counter—and nothing will happen, because it’s one of those new chip cards designed for better security. Then, a (slightly exasperated) cashier will tell this poor soul to push the card into a slot at the front of the reader. The poor soul will do this—and nothing will happen again, because the new chip tech is horribly slow.
Just when it looks like the reader is about to die—strange pixelations appearing on the screen—a legible message will finally appear, asking the poor soul to approve the transaction—and nothing will happen yet again, because the new chip tech is even slower than anyone remembers. Then the reader will start honking like an air-raid siren, as if something has gone horribly wrong. But eventually, the poor soul realizes the siren is trying to tell her it’s time to remove the card.
While paying for that Starbucks latte on Apple Pay and using Venmo to split the restaurant bill with friends, you might be tempted to think paper money is becoming a thing of the past.
But smartphones aside, cash isn’t going away anytime soon, says currency expert Bill Maurer.
A cultural anthropologist whose research focuses on the relationship between currency and technology, Maurer was part of a small group of academics asked by the U.S. Treasury to offer input on the $10 bill redesign. Buzz has surrounded the new bill after news broke that it would feature a prominent female figure.
Maurer, UC Irvine’s dean of social sciences and director of the school’s Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion, had a lot to say on the topic when the group convened in August at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.
In October 2014, Apple launched its highly anticipated mobile wallet solution, Apple Pay. Although the ability to make purchases through a smartphone app was not a brand-new concept, the business world viewed Apple Pay as the product that would finally push near-field communication (NFC) and contactless payment technology to the forefront of retail.
“Apple raised visibility [of payments as] something you can and should be able to do with a mobile device,” said Gregory Mann, chief marketing officer of mobile wallet solution LoopPay. “It took the conversation out of B2B partners … and brought it to consumers’ dining room tables. The average person out there [now knows] this is something you can do with your phone.”
The introduction of Apple Pay last Monday was widely described as the dawn of a new era for smartphone payments. But within a week, two major pharmacy chains, Rite Aid RAD and CVS CVS, rejected Apple’s AAPL version of the future: Both disabled Apple Pay as well as other tap-to-pay mobile payments systems Google Wallet and Softcard. As expected, customers took to Twitter to complain, and they almost universally sided with the smartphone company over the drugstores.
CVS hasn’t publicly explained itself. Rite Aid spokeswoman Ashley Flower defended the company in an e-mail to Bloomberg Businessweek. “We are continually evaluating various forms of mobile payment technologies, and are committed to offering convenient, reliable, and secure payment methods that meet the needs of our customers,” she wrote.
Go ahead and forget your wallet. Apple’s new mobile payment system, Apple Pay, launches today Oct. 20, and while some have questioned whether the technology is safe, security experts say it may actually be safer than swiping your credit or debit card.
Apple Pay lets iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users make purchases in stores with their smartphones, using near-field communication NFC technology. A tiny antennain the phone transmits encrypted credit card data without consumers having to swipe their card.
NFC technology isn’t new; it’s used to make mobile payments from Android phones with apps like Google Wallet and Softcard. But Apple’s mobile wallet might be more secure than those other options, according to Martin Ferenczi, the North American president of Oberthur Technologies, a French electronics security company.