As I was reading the NY Times this morning (in print, no less!), I came across the business section’s front page article, “Swiping is the Easy Part,” a story about using your mobile device like a credit card. And the ensuing struggle between banks, retailers, credit cards and mobile phone carriers who all want a piece of the pie. Some banks are getting around the whole issue by giving customers chips that they can install into their mobile device; thereby, diverting mobile operators. Oddly enough, just yesterday I Stumbl’d across Jack Dorsey’s app, Square. Mind you, I’d read about Square when it first came out but I put it aside as interesting but not yet applicable to me or my business. For those unfamiliar with Square, it is a small device that hooks into your mobile phone and allows you to accept credit cards from you mobile device (it’s only built for iPhones, iPads and Androids). For me, the common thread between these two items is vocalized by Jan Chipchase (perfect name, right?), the executive creative director at the design firm who studies mobile payments. “Is it possible to make a system that’s too easy to use, where you reduce so much friction from the transaction process that people aren’t necessarily aware of what they’re spending on something?” Even Jack and his gang of …, well, techies caution users on the reality of their product.

“Let’s spin a little story here: you are an excellent person, therefore you downloaded Square. Your reader arrives, and you immediately want to show it off. You run into the kitchen, where your visiting Aunt Myrtle is busy doing her crossword puzzle.” “You mesmerize her by swiping her credit card through the reader on your phone, jokingly charge her $10,000, and quickly cancel the transaction before it is authorized. Whoops! You just put a hold of $10,000 on her bank account!” “Aunt Myrtle isn’t quite so docile anymore. Thankfully, you didn’t actually charge that money, but nevertheless that hold remains. Now you have an angry aunt, no extra money, and you could have avoided this whole situation (and made a buck) with a simple test swipe of a single dollar.”

That’s kinda why I don’t like Kindles, Nooks, iTunes and the like.
I am afraid of my own financial temerity (if that even makes sense).
With barely a swipe, point and click, I would buy a $500 books in a week-end, $100 worth of tunes and $10,000 worth of clothes. And that’s low-balling it!
I know, I know. We always say that you can’t legislate people from being stupid. And this is the same kind of thing.
But really: Is it all just too magically delicious?