Saturday, August 14, 2010

NFC vs 2D Bar Code for Mobile Retail POS?

I know that this is not ecommerce related (at least not for the moment), but since Mobile Payments is the topic du jour, I thought I would comment on it. So, what is it going to be? NFC has been struggling for meaningful deployment for more than a few years and I think the time has passed. Merchants (that matter) have already embraced bar code technology at the POS and if they are not already 2D capabable upgrading to it probably would not be as painful as installing single purpose (credit card network controlled) NFC readers. They can then be in control of their own destiny at their POS and leverage the enhanced bar code technology for other purposes.
Why did NFC fail? When you combine the fact that most large merchants (supermarkets and big boxers) had turned the terminals to the consumer so they could swipe the card themselves combined with the card brands new rules around no signature for under $25 transactions, a lot of the motivation for NFC which was checkout speed evaporated.
The virtual Starbuck's stored value card iPhone app is the best example I have seen of such a deployment. I only wish it was in more street locations. I know it is now in all the Target based Starbucks but Target is not someplace I stop into on my way to work in the morning. However, this is an interesting point as to why the Target locations were deployed so quickly as they already had the 2D bar code technology and a simple software upgrade accomplished the task.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Facebook Credits bought by Mobile Payments...Disclosure Needed or Not?

I decided it was time to check out Facebook Credits. Last nite I navigated my way to buying some not because I need any but just to see what the payments experience is. I was curious if they were surcharging their "friends" when paying with a Mobile payment instead of credit card. They are to the tune of roughly 50%. The consumer gets 1/2 the number of Facebook Credits when they pay by charging to their mobile phone number.

I realize that their merchant cost is high due to the carrier's fee and therefore it is not completely unreasonable to do this.

What I do find unreasonable is that there is no clear disclosure of what the deal is.
You have to click back and forth between the choices when wanting to pay with credit card and wanting to pay by Mobile and have to do the math in your head.

When I shop at the supermarket, I expect to be able to look at the labels on the shelves and see that the Coke Zero in the 12 oz bottle costs me $.05/ounce and $.04/ounce in the 20 oz bottle.

It is one thing for some low life elixer company to pull this sort of deception, but another for a company like Facebook that should care about their reputation and credibility. And it should not require the government or some other body to monitor and enforce reasonable and ethical behaviour.

The Mobile Marketing Association guidelines prohibit surcharging the consumer. But, no one is enforcing those. Of course, this reminds me of an earlier post about Visa rules being ignored right under Visa's nose;

What do you think?

BTW, I am going to dispute this transaction. I tried cancelling it afterwards following the instructions in the text by texting back "STOP" and even got a text seemingly confirming that the transaction had been "discontinued", but since the 16 credits I bought did not get taken from my Facebook Credits balance, I am presuming either this is a delayed process or simply does not work. I will call the mobile payments company first and see how they handle it. Then I guess I get to call Facebook and then if all else fails, AT&T. Stay tuned!