Archive | August, 2010

Plastic: A Thing of The Past

3 Aug

Bloomberg news published a report Sunday that I find thrilling, interesting and terrifying all at once. With the recession still going strong and unemployment just under 10% it is clear this country is still under great financial stress. And with our federal government in trillions of dollars of debt in addition to millions of American citizens up to their eye balls in credit card debt there is definitely no better time than the present to seek out a solution right?

Well after years of theorizing, experimenting and testing credit card companies are talking once again about something new on the horizon for the credit card industry and this time its getting serious. My only concern is this new venture with the nations two largest cell phone companies ( AT&T and Verizon) gives me the eerie feeling of being even more at risk for credit card theft than ever before. I don’t think I am alone in being concerned about our credit cards being on our smart phones. I should state here that I am what you would call an “early adopter”, meaning I am the first in line to get the latest new gadget and I embrace technological change more than the next person but something about this just rubs me the wrong way.

For years my friends and I have sat around and discussed when the day would be that all financial transactions were strictly electronic. I mean we’ve all seen the death of currency a.k.a. cash coming for a while now but the thought of plastic becoming obsolete in just a few years time even caught me by surprise. It seems in an attempt to sprint into the lead ahead of credit monopolies Visa and Mastercard, Discover has already entered into the negotiation process with AT&T and Verizon.

Although using cellphones to pay for purchases is not an entirely new concept ( similar systems have already been in place for some time in countries such as Japan, Turkey and the UK according to Bloomberg) the US has not ventured past the testing stage. I feel it is safe to say my cause for concerns in regard to this topic are valid. I remember when the biggest fear was having someone break the window of your car, steal your purse and run up your credit card bill but over time these fears have grown. Now we face credit card theft over the internet whether we are at home, at work, on 3G networks or even wifi at your neighborhood Starbucks. I realize America has made a habit of convenience. Toady the average American spends more time surfing the World Wide Web than watching television (over 8 hours daily to be approximate). During these allotted hours we shop various retailers, video chat with relatives, sell our junk on ebay, monitor our banking, browse and rent movies and even order dinner. All of these perks are fantastic and I am guilty of taking advantage of all these opportunities and more but how much are we really willing to sacrifice for convenience?

When the United States Army can’t even keep classified information off the web for all to see and the banks we trust to hold or life’s saving can’t always protect our info from hackers are we really going to put our credit card information on our cellphones?