Friday, February 1, 2013

Charge it.

Add to Google Reader or HomepageA small observation: in France, purchases made by credit card are completed without the card ever leaving your sight. Be it in a restaurant or a shop, the system feels more secure than the ways we transact business with credit cards in the states. In France, all of the restaurant servers have hand-held credit card swipe machines. They bring you the bill and, when you are ready to pay, they return with a wireless credit card swipe machine. You watch the restaurant server swipe the card and generate the printout(s) which s/he gives to you along with your credit card. (Retail shops operate much as they do in the states with credit card swipe machines located at the check-out counter.)

Giving my credit card to a server in an American restaurant might explain my heretofore undefined discomfort as I watch the server disappear with my credit card only to return X minutes later with a print-out to review and sign.

As we grow more concerned about identify theft, it seems like we should have the same wireless credit card machines in the US. – Or, maybe my anxiety is misplaced and I should be more concerned about wireless data transmission and hackers???


  1. I have had this thought before about the US being behind the times technology-wise in restaurants. They were using this same technology you describe when we were in London, Paris and Nice in ....1995! Seemed very advanced at the time. I guess it still is.

  2. We do have them. In fact, I saw them for sale as plug in to smart phones by the cash register at a Chicago Starbucks. I've seen them at the Apple Store too. Actually, I see them regularly on food trucks and at work, where on Thursday a pop-up restaurant sets up in our break room. The food trucks and pop-up restaurants have the need for remote connectivity, so the phone connect makes that possible. The swipe is about an inch wide and works amazingly fast. It's seems so much faster than in a store. I doubt that the security is any better, the number is obviously stored somewhere, and I've never asked where. I learned the term pop-up restaurant recently in a meeting at work on innovation. In Chicago, the company that services our organization, is housed in the same building as Groupon's headquarters and may even be owned in part by the same people. That building, by the way, is actually the old Montgomery Ward headquarters. Now that Groupon seems to be tanking, it will soon be the headquarters of some virtual toilet paper firm, or something like that.

  3. We are seeing those machines in restaurants in the US although we don't have them at our own Bistro Des Copains. The bigger issue for future travelers from the US is not having chip and pin credit cards like they have in France. We have one but we also use our US Debit Card which does not have a chip and we are finding fewer and fewer places other than bank ATMs where it works.