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One of the things that a digital wallet can do better than a leather one is manage receipts.

We all understand that if we are going to replace the leather wallet with a digital one, it’s got to do a lot more than payments. Korea’s second largest mobile operator, KT, know this and so when they launched a new m-payment system “MoCa” they were part of the package. They also kicked off the “The MoCa Alliance”, which has already brought on board over 60 companies including the country’s leading banking institutions, coffee shop chains, and department stores.

[Interview : Shim Kyu-young, Seoul Resident] “I didn’t like that my wallet was thick due to cards, receipts, and coupons. Now my wallet is thin and it’s nice that I can comfortably use my smartphone.”

[From Arirang News]

This may have lost something in translation, but you get the point. Making payments electronic only gets us part of the way to the digital wallet. We need to make everything else electronic as well and the rather obvious place to start is the receipt, something of a weak link. A typical modern payment experience, for me, involves tapping a card or a phone on a reader for a transaction that takes a couple of hundred milliseconds and then standing around waiting for a printer to chunter out a paper receipt that I don’t actually want anyway. There must be a better way, and Walmart is trying one.

The retailer will identify the consumer by asking her to type in her mobile phone number on the debit card reader at checkout. If she chooses the e-receipt option and opts in, the e-receipt will be delivered by free text message after the transaction is complete.

[From E-mail Marketing – Wal-Mart will turn the electronic receipt into a sales tool – Internet Retailer]

This seems a little clunky, a little interim, to me but there are other implementations of electronic receipts emerging. Square’s new “Feedback” product will extend electronic receipt capabilities to smaller merchants and go further to allow consumers to give instant input after paying for something using Square but inviting feedback on the delivery of an electronic receipt, and will give those kinds of small businesses a way interact more intimately with customers.

“What if we saw it as a communication channel,” he asked. “What if we saw it as a publishing medium, what if we saw it as a connection, and a reminder, and a potential for more of those experiences?”

[From Jack Dorsey Is Planning to Reinvent the Humble Receipt | TIME.com]

So, yes, e-receipts are inevitable. But I wonder about the managed kind of e-receipt. If I was a retailer, I’d want to convert to e-receipts in my own wallet, not in someone else’s. If I were Waitrose, I’d want my app to do this, of course, because if they allow third-parties to manage the receipts for me, then that means those third-parties will get access to the level 3 POS data (the detailed line item data) and I’m sure they won’t want that to happen. This what some of the players are working on.

The idea is to know far more than Clubcard can about consumers because – with all the necessary consents – this is a system that can span the high street and online retail, effortlessly connecting the dots.

[From Receipts: the digital future – Telegraph]

The future narrative for the retail app with payments and receipts will, surely, be that I amble into Waitrose, my Waitrose app opens automatically because of BLE and displays my shopping list and notes, I get a coffee (I love the free latte in Waitrose, even if it does attract the wrong sort of person) and wander around self-scanning my groceries. When I’ve finished, I tap out using NFC and the Waitrose app (which has used the Partnership Services API to pull down an HCE token for my John Lewis MasterCard) pays via the standard contactless terminal and checks me out, at which point the till knows that as I’m using the Waitrose app I don’t want a stupid paper receipt and just sends the receipt back via NFC (or over the air using the interweb tubes) into the Waitrose app. Using the app and the “small data” tools provided by Waitrose I can then search, print, export or do whatever else I want to with my receipts – I’m not smart enough to imaging what else I actually might want to do with the receipts but I’m sure innovative persons will find some amazing things to do with them.

One final point about receipts. They need to be secure. You might think that they don’t need the same degree of security as payments, but I think you’re wrong. It’s time to bring digital signatures to bear on them to ensure that when you pull up an old receipt and present it for whatever purpose (returns, warranties, who knows what) the system can depend on its integrity.

To begin to comprehend China’s vast underground economy, one need only visit this city’s major transportation depots and watch as peddlers openly hawk fake receipts.

A scalper mumbles, “Fapiao, fapiao,” or receipts, at the Shanghai Railway Station. The trade in receipts is more or less open.

“Receipts! Receipts!” calls out a woman in her 30s to passers-by as her two children play near the city’s south train station. “We sell all types of receipts.”

Buyers use them to evade taxes and defraud employers. And in a country rife with corruption, they are the grease for schemes to bribe officials and business partners.

[From Coin of Realm in China Graft – Phony Receipts – NYTimes.com]

I was surprised on my first visit to Russia to see this same kind of business conducted openly in the subway system. When I went on to the Moscow subway for the first time, genuinely marvelling at the Stalinist splendour, I was given a couple of cards by a hawker as I passed by. I couldn’t read them, so I asked one of our Russian hosts what they were, and he said that one was an advertisement for bogus receipts for travel and the other was an advertisement for bogus medical certificates. No-one seemed at all fazed by this.


  1. To deliver receipts via NFC interface, one must tap and… hold… and hold… and hold… (ISIS experience in the US).

    Great piece on the use of receipt as a marketing touchpoint – we’ve been preaching that for quite some time, the retailers are finally warming up to the idea.

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