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Will We Miss Real Money If It's All Electronic?

One of many interesting features of the digital business age is how the major player companies are always striving to outdo each other, grab market share and develop their brands.

American Express plans to invest around $100 million in digital startup companies, according to Digital Trends. It is hoping to move beyond credit card services. Group President of American Express Enterprise Growth, Dan Schulman, said: ‘we are a 162 year old company that has continuously reinvented itself’.

Redefining Commerce

Because nothing stands still in business, never mind technology, they are embracing the inevitable, ‘redefining the very nature of commerce’. A company with a global presence, businesses and customers and up-to-the-minute data analytics, gains the edge and extends the base to build future developments. Schulman said they wanted to work with emerging technology firms ‘to inspire change, encourage innovation’.

It follows their steps into online payment services, begun in March 2011 when they launched Serve, an alternative (rival) to PayPal and other digital payment platforms.

Serve permits fund transfers, ATM withdrawals and person-to-person payments. It is accessed through apps and social media (just like almost every business now). To get it off the ground they waived fees for the first six months, but thereafter fees rose to about the same as PayPal.

Near-Field Communication

Serve launched hard on the heels of Visa’s announcement of its entry into the market for digital payments. Google, Mastercard and CitiGroup have teamed up to test near-field communication (NFC), ‘the digital wallet’.

This development is raising the stakes in digital advances in financial and commercial worlds, appealing to all online businesses. It simplifies transactions with data exchange by wireless connections between devices, like phones and cash registers. With smartphones evolving all the time, NFC is the essential link in the chain of progress in money payments.

Ready for the Christmas marketing season, PayPal has decided to go instore alongside online. Real space, physical retail outlets will offer location-based deals, flexible transactions and better inventory access. The first outlet is in New York, PayPal’s Shopping Showcase, introduced by the company as: ‘Imagine a digital wallet that stores all of your gift cards, loyalty points, and offers, and then automatically applies the stored money and savings for you at the point of sale’.

They also hope merchants as well as consumers will use PayPal for their own ecommerce requirements, to boost that sector and gain ground over other operators.

There is no end to the inventiveness of new technologies. And if real money disappears, will future generations know what they’ll miss?


Photo: Morgan