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Imagine a VC meeting to pitch an idea in the 90s. The pitch is that from a phone you will send short messages, limited to 160 characters, it will be the world’s most dominant communication medium, a market worth 1.6 trillion dollars worldwide and the only way you’ll actually communicate with a teenager. Heavy users will actually develop new muscles in their thumbs

Most people would roll on the floor laughing

Fast forward to 2005. We are going to put the same technology on the internet, but everyone can read it. It will invent a whole new vocabulary, everyone from prime ministers to soap stars will use it, it will help topple governments and it will be one of the top 10 sites visited on the internet. We will name it after a bird call.

Most people would hit the floor again. (Who knows, perhaps squawk and cluck were rejected in favour of Twitter as a name?)

Predicting technology successes is a minefield.

If we look at the card world, with chip and PIN I can make a transaction with 6 button presses. It takes longer to be asked “do you have a loyalty card?”

I can withdraw money anywhere in the world in less than 10 key presses – with the added advantage of not being asked if I have a loyalty card.

I just brought something from Amazon – 5 mouse clicks 12 characters and the latest best seller is on the way to my daughter.

These are the key things people do with their cards, and these make up the vast majority of the transactions from a user perspective

In the 90s EMV was the next big thing – it had many features for online and offline and had expandability, with the promise of many customer verification methods, offline risk management and multiple applications. It seems those dreams were just too complex.

The reality nearly 20 years later, the US, the largest market in the world is just getting round to using it. Many of the features offered are not even being used – its effectively just fancy CVC (Card Verification Code) that is stored on a chip not on the magnetic stripe or the card.

So NFC, the next ‘EMV’ – should we be ROFL or will it be as successful as SMS, Twitter – or indeed the ubiquitous and interoperable mag stripe. Looking at the above, the secret seems to be K.I.S.S – keep it simple, stupid. If we as an industry can achieve this, there is no reason we cannot tweet and buy at the same time and it rival other payment technology – oh and if they can remove the need to ask if I have a loyalty card – that would be brilliant.

Comments: (2)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 06 July, 2013, 08:41Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes GREAT analogy! Love it. We often get that "consumers will NEVER do that" response from people who happily fund or support the Nth "me too" copycats. As Steve Jobs put it, the best way to predict the future is to invent it. When you do, those who are stuck in the past rarely get it...
Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 09 July, 2013, 12:27Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I share your pet peeve about being asked for loyalty cards: According to personal experience and anecdotal evidence, "Haben Sie SuperCard?" is easily the Most Frequently Used German Expression wherein store attendants at Coop ask customers if they have the leading Swiss retailer's loyalty card. With so many attendants asking it so frequently, you could hear the question well before you reached the checkout yourself - and had to hear it once again, addressed to yourself! Thankfully, I escaped the English version since the nearest superstore (Asda) didn't - and still doesn't - have a loyalty program.