After a week with a phone and wearable that can be used as a credit card, the answer is clear: more telcos need to do what Optus has done with its cashless initiatives.
When this journo was younger, he was told of a society that would be cashless. That’s not moneyless — we’re not that “Star Trek” yet — but rather one that wouldn’t be dependent on bits of paper or plastic being carried around and handed over for goods and services.
In Australia where the coins require the heaviest material used for wallets and purses, going cashless is a dream.
Hands up all of you who like carrying Australian coins?
It’s not hard to admit that our local coins aren’t the friendliest things out there, weighing more than most currencies around the world and driving those of us not a fan of a clumpy and heavy coin pockets to something that is light, easy, and doesn’t risk tearing your clothes asunder.
Enter debit cards and credit cards. When these bad boys popped up years ago, suddenly people had a way of paying that didn’t involve needing to hand over chunky change.
In recent years, the debit card has grown even more powerful, with chip-based technologies sitting inside catering not just for code-based security, but also tap-and-pay technologies, which is what consumers are beginning to migrate to in droves.
If you’re not familiar with the concept, you’re in a minority in this country, where take-up of tap-payment technologies is so much that it’s easy to place Australia as one of the early adopters of the technology.
Still, in case you’re not, we’re talking about paying for goods and services with a simple tap of the card. The technology is essentially contactless, operating in a field above the payment terminal — the EFTPOS machine — but it’s easier if you just tap your card to the system to make it work.
Amounts of up to $100 can be used without a passcode on tap and go systems, allowing you to buy that bottle of milk or bunch of bananas simply by tapping the card to the terminal, waiting for the approval, and walking off after finding out you’ve paid, grabbing your receipt if you so choose.
Anything more than $100 and the tap and go service will still work, but you’ll be asked for a PIN code, which is the same one you’d need to use if you had swiped or used the chip in the card.
None of this is all that new, mind you, because the technologies associated with tap and go — MasterCard’s PayPass and Visa’s PayWave — have been around for a few years now.