[Dave Birch] I’ve been sitting in a workshop on high technology solutions in the payments world but I’ve spent the whole time thinking about low technology paper receipts. It’s first of all because Aneace pointed out how Boots were doing a great job on using till receipts to deliver special promotions to shoppers. He goes on to make an excellent suggestion…

Imagine if the same type of offer appeared at the bottom of the customer’s credit or debit card receipt, triggered based on whatever criteria Boots chooses, using payment data managed by Boots’ acquirer.

[From Aneace’s Blog: Boots till receipt promotions]

His general point — the receipts are an opportunity to deliver to some extra value in the payments value chain — is certainly correct, but it of course led me to think about the additional possibilities that will arise when paper receipts are replaced by electronic ones. I think electronic receipts are an excellent service: when I buy things in the Apple Store, their system automatically recognises my credit card and the assistant asks me if I want a paper receipt (in a tone of voice that suggests that she may then ask me if I have a butter churn). I say no, and the receipt is automatically e-mailed to me: great service. Now move forward to the situation where there are no paper receipts any more…

The Federal Reserve Board recently requested public comment on a proposal to exempt transactions of $15 or less from the “Reg E” requirement that consumers receive paper receipts for all electronic transactions.

[From Digital Money Forum: Where’s the Walmart?]

Apart from saving lots of trees, one might expect banks, retailers and others to come up with some interesting new services around the management and processing of receipts. If there’s the slightest prospect of the bank filling out my expenses claim for me at the end of every month, I will batter down their door to sign up.

Now I read that there’s a class action tsunami on the way in the U.S. around receipts. It turns out that since January 2007 it’s been illegal for receipts to contain more than the last five digits of a card number, so in a hardly unforeseen consequence of the legislation some 300 class action suits have been filed by lawyers around the country. Now, I’m not a lawyer so I have no idea what this all means, but I did note this comment:

The consumers in this case will neither be affected adversely nor will they be a beneficiary in this class action, said Theodore F. Monroe, Internet commerce and payments attorney. “The main beneficiary will be the class action law firms that initiated the lawsuits,” he said. “In essence it’s a reckless standard being used, so it’s pretty much impossible for any major merchant to show that it was not a willful violation.”

[From The Green Sheet 2.0 :: GS Online]

I wonder if the law covers electronic receipts? I shall be looking through my e-mail with interest, seeing if I can find receipts for software and the like purchased from U.S. merchants.

These opinions are my own (I think) and presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]

1 comment

  1. Dealing with paper *and* digital is a fascinating mix. Some of the community currency ideas are about moving paper receipts into the digital cash domain and back again, and “on paper” they look workable.
    Tsunami: As I heard it, a similar tea-cup storm occurred in Germany.
    As it was told to me: Digital signature directive was passed that made qualified digsigs equivalent to signed paper. In order to usher in the digital age, bootstrap ecommerce and look smart before skeptical teenager electorate, tax authorities ruled that only digitally signed invoices were henceforth permitted for digital delivery. Unfortunately, qualified certificates are only issued to … individuals, who don’t issue much in the way of invoices. Puff! There went the taxer’s dreams of invalidating whole years worth of invoicing and demanding the tax back, and confused the hell out of the companies, who really would have liked to use the digital invoice.
    I’d love to know if it was correct, anyone know the facts? It isn’t the only snafu by the uber-regulators, and I doubt it will be the last. One hot tip to the directive writers: leave commerce to the companies, they’ll figure it out quicker without your help.

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