MY family are huge fans of the Horrible Histories books.
We discovered them by accident on our first trip to London during a museum tour. Ever since then, we’ve made it a point to buy the new ones every time we stumble upon them. We also make it a point to only buy them in an actual bookstore.
Sure, we could get them online. That would be cheaper – and faster, too, since we only buy them when we’re visiting the UK. But that’s the point: my family choose to go out of our way to spend our saved-up holiday money in local shops wherever we visit, to demonstrate our support for small business owners. The same goes for food, drink, clothing and everything else we can manage.
It’s not easy to spend our money, though. Downright frustrating, even. Despite sharing a language, we can’t seem to make money flow efficiently from one country to the other.
Every time we travel to the UK we have trouble. Bank machines will only allow us to withdraw £100 per visit. Roughly 40 per cent of merchants we visit won’t accept our credit cards because the USA can’t be bothered to implement chip & PIN. I have a credit card stolen every other time we visit – in 2011, the thief started buying things with my card between when we left the register at duty free and when we boarded the plane for home. We manage…but we shouldn’t have to.
Similar problems plague businesses, too. When a client of mine in the UK wanted to send me £100 for a service rendered, we discovered that my American bank charges $40 for the privilege of receiving an electronic payment.
It’d be cheaper to mail pound coins through the post. These examples demonstrate why we must get our act together and normalise digital payment solutions. There should be no surprises, no ridiculous fees and no drama about consumers hopping across the pond to stimulate one another’s economies. We need each other’s business to thrive. We have consumers that genuinely want to part with hard-earned cash to get desirable goods and services.
Consumers need security
We, the people, need a secure way to authenticate, log and validate legitimate payments from buyer to seller. The smartphone is probably the right platform to make it happen. With Near Field Communication, biometrics at the point of sale and even digital signatures, we can make it safe (enough) for any traveller to make a purchase at nearly any retail establishment on the fly. No need to save cash, no worries about card theft. I know I’ll gladly pay a premium for such a service, so who’s offering?
We’re coming back this summer, and I’d like it to be drama-free. I need to buy a half-dozen new Horrible Histories for my boys.