Visa, MasterCard, AmEx… Driver's Licenses?
from the no-cash dept
Credit-card processing fees continue to be a growing burden for retailers, particularly in low-margin operations like grocery stores and gas stations. This is fuelling a lot of interest in alternative payment systems that seek to cut out credit-card companies, though they face formidable competition in the form of the cards’ ubiquity and convenience. One company is seeking to overcome that by turning people’s driver’s licenses into debit cards (via Payments News). Users link their bank account to their driver’s license number, and make purchases at participating retailers using the license and a PIN code. The service is already being used by some gas stations, who are very happy with it since the company charges a flat 15 cents per transaction, rather than a variable percentage, as credit cards do. The main sticking point is, of course, security — with plenty of people hesitant to start using their drivers’ license for payments, and authorities saying they don’t endorse the idea. This may not be a perfect solution, but it does indicate the sort of system that will be needed to meet the demand for a payment alternative to credit cards. Since this change will be retailer-driven — as the costs of payment processing are generally invisible to consumers — any viable solution will have to offer benefits to consumers that are at least equal to those offered by existing payment mechanisms.