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In Perspective - Money walks

Tue, 09/04/2012 - 10:54pm
Brian Santo

Cable operators should become transaction processors.

CED's Brian SantoI suspect I might have got myself on a terrorist watch list.

A couple years back, I wanted to surprise my wife on our anniversary with a vacation. This took some doing, as she handles the household finances. In fact, she actively monitors household finances – sometimes on an hourly basis. A few weeks back, I popped into a 7-Eleven for a Slurpee, was home five minutes later, and when I walked in the door, she asked me what I’d bought. Five minutes.

But I digress. …

Since she monitors our finances, I couldn’t charge the flight tickets. (Yes, I know, but I did not want another credit card, either.) I was going to pay cash.

The ticket agent wasn’t allowed to handle cash. The shift supervisor, judging by her behavior, hadn’t handled cash in years. The fuss that resulted leads me to suspect my purchase may have earned me a place in some file in some DHS computer somewhere.

Of course, it’s been years since airlines refused to accept cash onboard flights. Now Apple won’t accept cash at its stores. Nor will many car rental companies.

We are, in fact, gradually becoming a cashless society, whether we like it or not.

Starbucks just cut a deal with Square, enabling customers who elect to do so to pay for their caffeination automatically with a swipe of their mobile phones. Not only no-cash, but no-card.

So people are going to quickly get accustomed to paying for things with their phones, which – and here (I know you were waiting for this) comes the point – are also their TV remote controls.

Cable operators really ought to figure out right now how to ally with merchants of all types to become a transaction processor. QVC and the Home Shopping Network proved decades ago that people are willing to buy right off of their TVs. Buying and selling through remote controls would be a simple evolution in behavior for many viewers. The only differences will be the means of contact, and this is the important part: Cable operators could charge a transaction fee.

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