Nov 04, 2011

Is Card Case the app that lets the Smartphone replace your wallet?

Has anyone tried Card Case, the smartphone app that allows face to face payments simply by saying your name? I was unfamiliar with it until Farhad Manjoo wrote a piece about it in Slate this week and noted that 800,000 Card Case readers have been shipped to merchants. 800,000! Is this going to change the consumer payment model from credit card based to smartphone based?


Hmmm, I read about it, and it sounds good, but I’m always doubtful when I hear about something that is “going to change the way Americans do business”.   Then again, it isn’t as if we have always used credit cards for payments either (ask your grandparents).  Remember those rectangular pieces of paper called checks?   For those unfamiliar with Card Case, it allows a smartphone user to pay by simply giving the clerk their name, no need to take your phone out of your pocket.  The phone must be within 100 feet of the checkout point, and your name and photo will appear on the store’s smartphone, so that the clerk can make sure that you match your photo and are, in fact, you.  The first roadblock that comes to mind is infrastructure/equipment.  I’m not sure how many small businesses are going to want to adopt a new and unfamiliar payment system.  I know quite a few neo-luddites that have small businesses and are even today reluctant to fully utilize computer applications beyond spreadsheets and word processors.  As time goes on, and smartphones become more and more ubiquitous, there is less likelihood of resistance.  It also helps that there are no set-up fees and a low cost per transaction, which should help alleviate business concerns over adopting new expenses along with new technology.   I suspect that a lot of people would like to be able to walk into a local coffee shop and just say the modern day equivalent of “put it on my tab.”  In fact, just a paragraph ago, I was doubtful myself, but the more I think about it, the more I like it and think it has a decent shot at long term success.   I know I would be willing to give it a try.

Hi jdixon,

I have not used the app, but I did come across a review on PCWorld's Business Center. It's certainly an interesting idea though I do not know how well it will pan out. I guess we will have to wait and see.

Here's the review:

Square's Card Case is Cool But Can't Replace Cash Registers

"I can't see retailers embracing Square's app combo and throwing out their cash registers. But for businesses that make fewer, and more expensive transactions (and who have a smartphone-equipped, credit card-loving customer base), Square's Register and Card Case apps could be very handy. Square will be accepting tabs for additional merchants in the coming weeks, and you can sign up for more details here.

While Square's new Card Case app doesn't mark the end of the cash register era, it is a big step in mobile device transactions--until we see NFC implemented in a big way, it's the only app that really lets people pay with their phones."
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