mandag den 24. august 2009

Death to Receipts! How can we trash them?

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So many things would be so much easier without receipts ...


[...] This is where the credit card companies come in. First thought: Let's put our e-mail addresses on that magnetic strip on the back of the card. All sorts of other data lives back there, so there's no reason why our e-mail addresses can't as well. I put in a call to four big credit card companies—American Express, Discover, Mastercard, and Visa—and all of them either declined comment or did not respond. But I spoke with other experts in the industry, and they say it's possible to pop some more data onto that magnetic strip.

There are, of course, privacy concerns about putting even more personal information onto a piece of plastic that already holds far too much. (Note that the issue isn't giving the card companies our e-mail addresses in the first place, as they probably already have them. It's just embedding them in the cards.) Plus, we may not want each merchant we visit getting our e-mail addresses, especially without the sellers explicitly asking for them. Their knowing our addresses would need to happen if the store were the one e-mailing us the receipts, as Apple does now. We'd need to figure out a way to stop them from keeping our information, which would entail getting the credit card industry's standards council involved, which would only slow things down. So, a compromise: Let's not have our receipts e-mailed to us. Let's just have them digitized.

In that scenario, the credit card companies (or the banks that offer the cards) would be the ones indexing our receipts online. We'd log into, say, and see a list of all of our purchases, just as we do now when we do online banking. But then you could click on the purchase and see the receipt therein. Now you have a digital copy that eliminates the need for a paper one. [...]

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