On April 6th, a new law comes into force regarding the mandatory embedding of ID microchips in dogs. The UK is a nation of dog lovers, where being a dog is even a key requirement of winning "Britain's Got Talent", so this legislation is a really big deal.
Dog owners will need to use veterinary practitioners approved as Pet ID Service Providers (PISPs) under the government's chip card scheme, which has been designed to also comply with European security regulations and the EU new Pets Services Directive (PSD2).
Rather like regulatory initiatives in payments, some will see this law as an irritating inconvenience. You know it's backed by good intent, but cannot help feeling that a scheme that deals with over 9 million new chip cards, and a whole new compliance machine
could be tricky to manage. But like regulatory nudges towards Open APIs in banking, canine chipping is definitely coming, and it will have very profound implications. Could this legislation lead to major societal changes in the UK and beyond?
To research this pet project a bit further, I consulted a good friend of mine, Steve Boswell, who is an expert in imagining and designing new user experiences in the world of payments. Steve has form - he helped to design "KiTTi", a clever new payments app
now live and Powered by Santander. Thanks to Steve's pedigree, we have conceived a new scheme, "Doggy Pay", that creates a virtue from the inconvenience of dog chipping, and gives new meaning to the banking industry narrative of "Real Time, Any to Any" payments.
Dogs will be offered multi-function chip implants - handling both Identity and Payments. Existing banks and card issuers will offer new forms of "additional cardholder" options, where extra chips can be issued to dogs, or to regulated veterinarians. Once installed,
these chips will become a key part of the payments infrastructure of the UK, solving countless network, distribution and security issues faced by banks is recent years.
This bare-bones blog is probably not the right place to discuss the technical details of Doggy Pay. But its obvious that banks and TPPs will need to cooperate on Open API standards to allow all participants to benefit from this new initiative. The APIs will
allow TPPs to access account preferences like limits, preferences and chosen verification techniques, and to access valuable transactional data. The benefits could be huge; dog owners may be able to avoid the hassle of remembering PINs, passwords and other
befuddling security measures - their pet would become their primary method of Strong Authentication. Obviously the standards will need to allow for variations to suit individual dogs. Some Point of Sale devices may be enabled with biometric recognition to
respond to unique dog barking, or variations of the facial recognition recently trialled by Worldpay. Some PIN Entry Devices could be modified for paw print recognition - Chip and Paw. The industry cost of lost/stolen cards will be eradicated. Disputes and
fraud costs will be greatly reduced.
But this initiative goes beyond the payments process. It could fundamentally disrupt shopping itself. There is an overused cliché in payments that goes like this: "no-one wakes up in the morning and thinks, 'I want to do a payment' ". This initiative speaks
to people who wake up and think "damn, I've run out of milk and I need to go to the corner shop, but I'd prefer to stay in bed".
Although some industry trend watchers claim drone technology is the future, Doggy Pay would unleash a far more sensible method of home delivery. Dog owners could lie in bed and send their dog to the corner shop or convenience store to collect the bread,
milk and a newspaper. Dogs would be able to do this without needing to worry about carrying cash or wallets. Perhaps human shopping will disappear altogether as dogs become enthusiastic shopper/fetchers and fully paid participants in the Internet of Things.
Initially Doggy Pay will only support physical "dog present" scenarios, but we are also on the trail of international online standards such as those advocated by the Fast Identity Online (FIDO) alliance.
The new chip regulation comes into force 5 days from now on the 6th April, and there are a few operational aspects of Doggy Pay that remain to be resolved - liability issues and data ownership, for example. So I'd welcome any advice, feedback or encouragement
- this could be the start of a vibrant new developer community creating innovative new online services for dogs. We may even finally disprove that famous New Yorker cartoon that said "on the internet, no-one knows you're a dog".