Technology available today gives consumers access to “digital wallets.” Examples of this include waving a key fob or cell phone in front of a reader to pay for a good or service. While I think that geeks (like me) look forward to this, I believe most consumers remain reluctant to give up their cash and credit cards. A few recent articles on the topic suggest that maybe the tipping point for electronic payment in the U.S. may arrive soon.
A push from Starbucks cannot hurt. Starbucks recently invested in Square (see “Starbucks and Square to Team Up,” New York Times, August 8, 2012) and will no doubt push it in its stores. If you want a more detailed lay of the land, see “The death of cash,” (Fortune, July 9, 2012). If you are a glutton for knowledge about this topic, you can also check out “What’s In Your Wallet? Wait, You Don’t Need One ” (NPR, All Tech Considered, August 16, 2012).
The topic cold fit into a number of different sections of the introductory marketing course. For example, it certainly reflects an external environmental factor related to technology. The Girl Scouts have sold a lot more cookies by leveraging portable credit card readers. We cover paying in the price chapters.
I am going to discuss these systems when when I go over the adoption process and diffusion of innovation. This is cool technology — but it has not made much progress. You could ask students (as we do at Learn the 4 Ps): How many of you use your cell phone or a key fob to pay for goods and services? Would you be able to get by without cash today? Are you comfortable moving to a cash-free world? Do you think your parents are ready for this? My priors are that our college-age students are more comfortable with this than many of their parents.