This week we’ve seen the launch of the Kiwi-grown Semble ‘mobile wallet’ payment system, which lets people with compatible banks and NFC-capable Android phones wave their mobile phones at retailers’ point of sale terminals to make payments – no card required.
I’ve never lusted after such a payment ‘solution’, but I have been reasonably interested in electronic payment matters since the early ’80s when I worked for Databank and was a pioneer eftpos trialist. So I thought I might at least give Semble a tryout.
First, they’ve launched Semble but the app is not in the (naffly-named) Android Play Store.
Second, though my Google Nexus 5 phone is NFC-capable, it isn’t listed among the eligible phones, which are all Samsung or HTC.
And third, I would have to replace my phone’s SIM with a special secure model. A hassle.
While for now I can’t actually use Semble, I started thinking more deeply on the matter and wondering “why would I want to anyway?” What if I applied some basic time and motion analysis to the issue?
Currently when I do an eftpos or credit card payment, I ask for the printed docket so I can later enter the transaction into my accounting program. So my wallet has to be out of my pocket and open to receive the docket. It’s no extra work to take my debit or credit card from the wallet and apply it to the POS terminal.
If I used my phone instead of a card, I’d have to take it out of my pocket to do the terminal-wave thing. But I’d still want a printed docket to enter into my accounting system. So I would still have to extract my wallet to receive the terminal printout.
Semble (and any other form of mobile wallet payment including Apple Pay), would force me to extract two things from my pocket, rather than only one. And juggle between them.
How is this more convenient than just using a credit or debit card? Is it any wonder there’s been almost zero public interest (beyond the tech community) in mobile wallet payment systems?
Is this technology for technology’s sake – solutions looking for answers?
OK – call me a Luddite.
Very early apps are often not on the Play site but available on websites – in this case the Semble site. Infinit was the same.
For ASB customers you can currently get a stick on thing for the back of your phone that does effectively the same thing but will work with any phone or op system on Paywave terminals. And from the app you can specify whether it should deduct from cheque or credit or even disable it completely – which you can’t do with your Paywave compatible credit card. Quite smart.
But two enduring problems: first your issue re receipts; second not enough Paywave terminals around yet.