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Roger Clarke's 'Consumer Payment Futures'

A Vision of Consumer Payments Futures

Roger Clarke

Principal, Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, Canberra

Visiting Fellow, Department of Computer Science, Australian National University

Version of 10 May 1996, lightly edited

© Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, 1998

This paper was prepared as a prelude to a workshop on smart cards

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It was early evening the day before Mothers' Day, 2005, and I was running late. I couldn't afford to spend an hour at the jeweller's, but VADERs come in such varied styles these days. I settled on a brown Argyle diamond in a buffed moon-rock setting, size O, for the ring-finger of my left hand. Then it took a few minutes extra to install the chip. It could have been quicker; but I prefer the up-market multi-feature ones, instead of the standard chips that come pre-installed.

It was such an old-fashioned shop too: the proprietor assumed that I'd be paying by credit-card! I mean: who needs a credit-card to flaunt your social status these days?? I can convey the image perfectly well with a suitable set of affinity logos on my debit-card, and of course an appropriate quality VADER (what does that stand for again? Oh, yes, I remember: stored-VAlue DEsigner-Ring).

First stop was a public kiosk, to install my public-persona profile-data onto my new ring, and load some value. It's a pain having to actually pull your card out of your belt, but they tell us proximity cards aren't yet secure enough to carry debit-card functions. (Next year, they keep saying. I reckon it's got more to do with the cost of the things).

So into the slot went my debit-card. Because I was in such a hurry, I took my hand away too quickly, and it said 'user authentication incomplete'. Stupid machine. So I put my hand back on the card, and it validated my thumb geometry against the profile held on the card, and let me get on with the value-withdrawal.

Now this bit always gets tricky. The people who designed this system assumed that people would use the same hand to put the card in the slot as the one that they wear their VADER on. I don't; I simply like wearing my ring on the other hand. So I had to take my right hand out of the recess, and put in my left one. Onto the ring went the value, and I was all set to resume normal life. I nearly left my card in the machine, but fortunately it beeped plaintively just in time.

Now I had very little time left to get Mum something before my dinner appointment. I jumped onto the public transport system, waved my ring-finger nonchalantly past the toll-collector ... and missed the acknowledgement button. Curses!! You always look such a fool when it beeps and you have to apologise to the people behind you and back up and do it all again. Why don't they just take the money, and do away with the button?

Down at the florist, I picked out the bunch I wanted. Mum's well aware of all the standard PUFAs ('pseudo-unique flower arrangements' they call them - marketing people are incorrigible!); so I always ask for some customisation. I usually get them to put in something that clashes violently with the carefully planned colours and textures, because that way she knows I put some time and effort into it.

Then a quick rake of the ring past the payment-terminal and a tap of the button (they're easier to hit first time when you're standing still). Fortunately my chip's data-store includes Mum's address, so I could hold the ring in the field for a little while longer, flick down through the menu, select that address, and transfer it to the florist's chip. All done in a few minutes, and the florists' sub-Internet had the order in Mum's local florist within a second. I'll bet the lady there screwed up her nose at having to put orange gerberas in amongst deep red roses and gentle green foliage!

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The content and infrastructure for these community service pages are provided by Roger Clarke through his consultancy company, Xamax.

From the site's beginnings in August 1994 until February 2009, the infrastructure was provided by the Australian National University. During that time, the site accumulated close to 30 million hits. It passed 65 million in early 2021.

Sponsored by the Gallery, Bunhybee Grasslands, the extended Clarke Family, Knights of the Spatchcock and their drummer
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Created: 14 July 1998 - Last Amended: 14 July 1998 by Roger Clarke - Site Last Verified: 15 February 2009
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