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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

I thought I was Road Runner, but I may be Wily Coyote or, I’ve absorbed a Niagara Falls of credit card technology in one afternoon.


It took me one trip to the phone store and two calls to the help line to get my cute little square up and running today. At the phone store two young women, I’d guess eighteen and twenty something, helped me download the app to my phone.  The younger one, Amanda, began the download, which took several minutes. Waiting, I said to Morgan, the older, I quit all this technology more than ten years ago and the last mobile point of sale terminal I used was a radio signal transmitter.

“Wi-fi?” queried Amanda. No, I told her, this was before Al Gore invented the internet. An actual radio signal carried the swiped credit card data winging to the processors and the approval back to my terminal. “Wow.”

I became an entrepreneur about the time credit cards were offering revolving credit, not thirty day terms. It was the wave of the future to a forty something weaver with goods to sell. We started with a knuckle buster, an imprinting machine, put the day’s slips into a glassine fronted envelope and took them to the bank to deposit.



Linda still uses her knuckle buster. She tells about a young man at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts last summer who wanted to interview her about her knuckle buster. He was a Penn State student in a Business and Technology class who had never seen such a thing. Could she process a check with it? He took a picture of it to show his class.



I was not long at out of state shows to realize there is a class of lowlife who depended on knuckle busters to deprive craftsmen of both their goods and their money. We had a point of sales terminal on the wall in the studio by then, and every night I would call home on our 800 number and read the imprinted slips to my sister to key into the terminal. The few iffy cards I took were generally resolved by finding the person in the local phone book and straightening it out.

It was still a cumbersome enough process to look into mobile technology, and we undertook the expense of the radio terminal. The scalawags were more numerous by then, and I learned to look up from my terminal and say “Oh, dear. This card was declined. Do you have another one you might want to use?”



Or the time I looked up into the eyes of a handsome young college man, making about a hundred and fiftyish dollar purchase. “Oh, dear. My screen says I am to keep this card if I can and call the police as soon as you are out of sight. What should I do?” And he said, “Oh, that must be the card I reported as stolen and forgot to throw away. Here, use this one.”

That wonderful little terminal was the end of my credit card processing experience; I sold it to another artist and left the world of sales forever. I thought.

Now I want to process credit cards again, and got the little square and a no monthly charge plan for less than we used to pay for actual point of sale processing. Cute little bugger, isn’t it:



Pretty little app on my phone; that dollar sign there to the right of the middle row of apps. Who could ask for anything more?



After supper tonight I whiled away a few minutes reading my news feed. There was an article in the “picked especially for you” section. On October first, the new and improved EMV credit cards will be deployed by all banks. To convince merchants to accept them, the processors have adopted the expedient of shifting the liability for fraud from the bank to the retailer. As more and more customers pull out their Europay Mastercard and Visa (EMV) chip embedded plastic which is not swiped, savvy retailers will buy the new readers.

Card reading terminals will soon join knuckle busters.  Oh, the irony of being drug into the post millennial era of credit card processing and obsoleted, all in the same afternoon.


25 comments:

  1. I'ts 'dragged', not 'drug', but that couldn't be less important.
    Both my kids use their phones as credit cards, there is some app that let's them use their smart phone for purchases....my flip-up one seems to lack the ability.

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    1. I went to a Pete Seeger concert years ago. The first thing he asked the audience, "How many of you were drug here?" A roar of laughter arose. Loved the word since then.
      Thank goodness I have no idea how to use my phone that way. My brain would explode.

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  2. Hari Om
    Uggh... Here in UK there is a big drift toward EFT (electronic funds transfer) which goes from customer account to business account and not a credit card in sight. We have the likes of P/Pal to thank for that I think. As an ex banker, I all to well recall knuckle busters and the radio readers... and the ridiculous fees you had to carry for providing this convenience to your punters. The other thing here - it was in OZ also, is the Visa acts as a debit card from the personal account, depending what buttons get pressed...... I am super-impressed with your little gadget. Ain't technology just the most vibrant nuisance ever to rise??? YAM xx

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  3. It is amazing how technology has changed over the years. It is good you were able to spot those cards in the past that were a bit fradulent we will say and be able not to get stiffed for purchases made. Makes you wonder what the next 5 years hold in store for transactions like this.

    betty

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  4. Using a phone to make purchases? My brain may explode. This world is moving toooooo fast for me. Some wonderful things, some (to me) irrelevant things and quite a lot of scary things.

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  5. I cannot stand it that people scam and steal from others, and they are very smart and up on the technology, too. I don't use all the new technological devices out there but I do use a few, as they are quite handy, but when doing purchases in a store we must be extra careful to hide our PIN number. I always put my hand over the buttons so that nobody can see it.

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  6. So tonight after talking to you on the telephone-not texting, i also got the october compliant date in an e-mail and now wonder if I also need to put the knuckle buster in the back of the cash table and try to handle some of the new technology..UGH.

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  7. Hahaha! Technology is like that, innit?

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  8. oooh! New stuff! it will be a while before that technology makes it to Australia I guess. We're a bit slower out here, being so distant and all.

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  9. My goodness that brings back memories. I had forgotten all about those knuckle buster imprinting devices - what a glorious example of intermediate technology.

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  10. There has been a lot of talk recently about cash becoming redundant. Seems all financial transactions in the future will be unrecognizable to us soon enough. I gave in a few months ago and now do a lot of my banking on my smart phone -- so far so good -- It seems there is even talk of the computer becoming redundant...

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  11. Golly, you hardly had time to learn how to use the new technology and it was old technology. Yikes.

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  12. Quickly changing technology is easy for a five year old, but brain numbing for the rest of us.

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  13. I have no doubt you'll rise to the challenge of learning yet another technology.

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  14. if it's a day old these days, the technology is obsolete.

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  15. Technology is both wonderful and scary. I am happy you are trying to learn how to incorporate it into your business. Ah the good old days!!

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  16. I guess it shows our age but to hear of someone in college that never seen a "knuckle buster" (didn't know they were called that) is so odd to me.

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    1. It seems like yesterday, doesn't it, and yet it was about twenty years ago they began to be overtaken.

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  17. I used a knuckle buster in the eighties. My hair person uses one of those squares. Charge, tip, and signature all on her phone.

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  18. I am glad that I am no longer in business. All these changes to buy without cash on the line would overwhelm me. I know it is the only way to continue in business as everyone has a card and hardly carry cash anymore. But I guess I am guilty as I hardly carry cash or checkbook any more. -- barbara

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  19. Were you kicking and screaming all the way? I would be. To think back to my grandmother's generation where all was paid in barter or cash...

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  20. A big pat on the back to you Joanne. It is all so daunting to me. My knee jerks when I have to do anything new. My husband still writes paper checks for everything and refuses to bank online. I guess I'm at least a little more advanced than he is.

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  21. Oh Joanne, much of what you say on today's blog is quite Double Dutch to me - I still write cheques for most things, although use my debit card quite a lot. You obviously call all these things by completely different names!
    I really popped over about your answer to my blog today to say how envious I am of your cardinals. We once saw one on one of our visits to the US - it was one of highlights of the whole holiday - same goes for humming birds.

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  22. We go to England every year and about 10 years ago we started having trouble getting merchants to accept our credit cards because they didn't have a chip. They had to find an old knuckle buster, as you called them, to do our card.
    We have chip cards now, but only Walmart has a machine to read them.
    Like your little phone app, when we bought out Christmas tree last year the lady we bought from had one.

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