[Dave Birch] Hhhmmm. Only a couple more shopping days left until Xmas, time for a real man to start thinking about presents. What would make a good present for a Digital Money Denizen this year?

The disgruntled commuter, the perpetual pessimist, the misanthrope, the ironist [which covers a large percentage of the people we know!]: Whether you find in your daily commute something soul-sucking or rather darkly comedic, Bad Oyster knows that public transit ain’t all a pleasure cruise. Its Sardines, Roulette and Mind the Gap (‘between your expectations and the service provided’) wallets (£2.99) are like a miniature dose of defensive humour for your harried journey.

[From Londonist: Santa’s Lap: Designer Oyster Card Holders]

Not bad. But these are about accessorising (is that the word? My spell check is unconvinced) the payment instrument rather than the payment instrument itself. Meanwhile, over in Hong Kong, they’re showing what can be done with a bit of imagination.

This premium and stylish Octopus series offers four adorable animal designs for customers to choose from, each gorgeously adorned with colourful crystals. Each Octopus Ornament also comes with a beautiful charm and chain which can be easily attached to a handbag, mobile phone or MP3 player, or worn on the wrist as an accessory, adding a touch of dazzling glamour! Each Octopus Ornament design is beautifully packed in an exquisite gift box, making it a perfect treat for family and loved ones.

Combining sparkling glamour and payment convenience, Octopus Ornaments are for sale at only HK$328 each (not including any deposit or initial stored value) at 7-Eleven outlets in Central, Admiralty, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay, Tsim Sha Tsui, Mong Kok and Sha Tin starting tomorrow (4 December 2008). Only a limited quantity is available.

Like all Octopus products, Octopus Ornaments can be used on public transport and at more than 5,000 retail outlets across Hong Kong.

[From Octopus Holdings Limited – Press Releases]

I still have the same boring old Oyster card I bought years ago, although I rarely use it anymore because of my splendid Barclays OnePulse card. It sits at the bottom of my rucksack, only used to help friends or family members who have forgotten theirs. But if I could get a Hello Kitty Oyster tag for my bag, I would. In fact, I’d probably get several, so that I could pay in the most appropriately fashionable way.

Once freed from the tyranny of form factor, the imagination should open up. There’s no real reason, obviously, for contactless cards to be cards at all, apart from the convenient card-shaped slots that people have in their wallets. If the marketing guys understood what contactless was and was it can do (and it’s our fault that they don’t) I’m sure they could soon add some amazing new stuff to the payments world. Such as stickers, for example, but I’m trying not to keep going on about them.

Talking of amazing new contactless stuff makes me put forwardmMy contactless tip for 2009? I spotted this item in Contactless News earlier in the year and I think it gives a little window into the next big thing: convergence of multiple applications on standard contactless interfaces.

At a press conference during the September ASIS International Conference in Atlanta Denis Hébert, HID Global’s president and CEO, announced that new Dell Latitude E-Family laptops have a contactless smart card reader built into the palm rest that supports iCLASS cards.

[From ContactlessNews | HID takes the next big ‘logical’ step]

The bringing together of logical and physical access control will mean a proliferation of contactless interfaces. Look at Japan, where Sony has already sold some five million USB contactless interfaces for PCs and Playstations. Once your PC has got a contactless interface for access control, then we can begin to exploit that same interface for payments, ticketing and other transactional applications. The smart card interfaces that we all hoped would appear in PCs are finally looking viable for the mass market

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

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