More about the RF transmitter in my pocket

So, I had mentioned that my new credit card had an RF transmitter in it for making contactless payments. I finally got a chance to use this feature yesterday at the pharmacy to purchase my prescription. Some interesting notes about the experience:

  • The receipt, as usual, displays the last 4 digits of the credit card number. However, the number on the receipt is *not* the last 4 digits of my card. It appears that the RF method of payment acts as an additional card number (sort of like my wife’s card) that charges to the same account. Makes a lot of sense, I suppose, except that from the user’s perspective the user wasn’t expecting this behavior it could make it harder to reconcile the receipt with which card the user charged it to.
  • I needed to hold the card on the reader for a second, and then the display showed 4 options of buttons to hit, including Credit, Debit, Gift Card, and something else I guess. (I guess I should have paid more attention.) I would think that while it’s transmitting my card number and who knows what else, it could also transmit the type of card, no? It should have a better idea of what kind of card it is than I have.
  • It didn’t seem that much quicker than swiping the card. In the second it took it to read the card, I think I could have swiped it if I were quick enough. I suppose it could have been slightly faster to do the RF thing. But I suspect the primary advantage from the credit card company / retailer’s point of view is that there’s no chance of swiping the card the wrong way, which is I suspect a significant common time-waster of self-swiped credit card processing. Apparently, the RF payment product is also available in a keychain fob, which could make it faster for some people as they only have to get out their keys instead of getting out their wallet, I guess.

4 thoughts on “More about the RF transmitter in my pocket

  1. I’m going to start a company that produces wallets and/or purses consisting of two layers of split leather with tin foil in between. Or maybe calfskin and split leather…

    well, not really, but I thought about it.

  2. Most Checkcards can be used as a credit card that does not charge a fee to use or as a debit card where you have to put in your pin. So that question is valid.

  3. Well, my bank doesn’t charge a fee either way…

    For cards that can be used via multiple networks like that, I suppose it does make sense to ask the question. But for a card so smart it’s got its own microchip and transmitter in it, why can’t POS systems query it for the payment methods / networks it supports, and only present those options to the user (and if there’s only one method, use it without asking).

    It just seems like these systems are *so* *close*, but there are still some big hurdles to good usability and efficiency that don’t seem all that hard to solve.

  4. If the retailers cared about the swiping the wrong way problem, they’d put a stripe reader on both sides of the slot. That way people wouldn’t have to guess which way to swipe.

    Whether an RFID reader is cheaper than a bunch of stripe readers I don’t know.

    Another possible advantage of RFID is that magnetic stripes often wear out.

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