Way back when Tim Cook first unveiled Apple Pay, the main sales point was the convenience of doing away with messy wallets. My mom’s wallet for example was always stuffed full of credit cards, point cards and the latest store discount coupons clipped out of newspapers and flyers. The promise of Apple Pay was, “look ma, no more messy wallet.” Except it didn’t work out that way.
The rise of code payment point economic zone like PayPay, dPoint and Rakuten Point has resulted in mobile payments that take longer than mom’s messy wallet ever did. I was reminded of this recently getting lunch at Doutor Coffee. A youngish woman paying in front of me wasn’t really paying. With smartphone flat on the counter, lavishly nailed fingers leisurely tapped away for 5 full minutes as she completely ignored the cashier waiting to read the QR code, everybody else waiting in line be damned. Instead of getting read to pay she was signing up for some pissy small payment app discount coupon. And when that was done she finally paid with a QR code for a cup of hot cocoa, face full of discontent. Or maybe that was her normal character.
You see that kind of checkout line behavior everywhere in Japan these days: half losing oneself digging around in an app to find a coupon or campaign special, half ‘screw you’ that often skirts on taking pleasure from somebody else’s pain. People literally loose themselves in the moment.
Who’s to blame for this state of affairs? QR Code payment apps that offer all kinds of coupons certainly deserve some of the blame, along with crappy in-store wifi, or lack thereof. Apple Pay deserves some blame too. Let’s face it, Apple Value Added Service (VAS) NFC protocol has been abysmal failure in the Japan market despite dPOINT and PONTA support. And who’s the biggest culprit of all? All of us of course…all of us who actually believed that technology could fix human behavior. In short this issue isn’t going to be fixed. All we can do is remember to chill, pay attention to our surroundings and be polite in the checkout line.