The Federal Trade Commission will later this summer hold a Town Hall meeting to look at consumer protection issues stemming from the growing use of contactless devices, or pay-as-you-go systems for retail payments.
The FTC said it wants to study these new technologies as they mature, convening interested parties, and weighing the costs and benefits to consumers of their use.The Town Hall will explore the extent to which contactless devices and readers are being deployed domestically and around the world, along with potential benefits and risks to consumers of their use. Topics will include:
- An overview of various contactless payment devices;
- Consumers’ understanding of contactless payment capabilities and potential risks, and the need for further consumer education;
- Security and privacy threats and proposed solutions;
- Emerging practices and technologies that may shape the contactless payment marketplace over the coming years.
Contactless payment continues to look like a solution in search of a problem. Customers have been slow to take up this new form of payment, as it offers few tangible benefits beyond what credit and debit cards do. Retailers are equally slow implementing the systems due to the aforementioned lack of benefits and consequent lack of customer demand. And of course, industry-leader Pay By Touch recently went out of business, so the industry's main proponent is now gone. Will contactless payment ever take off? Perhaps. But for now, the money needed to implement such a system would be better spent on other in-store technology programs like digital signage for marketing, or self-service kiosks for providing genuinely valuable applications to customers.