But, to be fair, that's not at the heart of Salmon's argument. He cites "a fantastic piece" by Dan Rowinski that makes an ultimately misguided argument against mobile payments:
It's basically no easier or faster to activate the NFC or QR code in your phone or open an app than it is to dig out some cash from your pocket or pull a plastic card from your wallet. Try it. They'll each take you basically the same amount of time.
It's not about time; it's more about convenience. There's a distinction between the two things. Increasingly our lives are moving to our smartphones. Companies such as Starbucks and Apple knew this long ago. This knowledge of what will be -- not of what is "normal" -- is what sets Howard Schultz and Steve Jobs apart.
Without even as much of a whiff of context, Salmon closes his piece with this sentence:
Look how hard it has been to kill off the check in this country ...
The numbers tell us otherwise.
According to data from the
, while paper checks will not go away entirely until 2026, we're writing 1.8 billion fewer of them annually. Tease out some of America's oldest enclaves, such as Pittsburgh's Allegheny County, and I bet we see fewer checks and more transactions via credit/debit card, ACH and, increasingly mobile means.
These mass revolutions just do not happen overnight. Falling victim to the social media-driven collective ill of
Everything must happen ... right now!
, it appears Salmon thinks generational transformations should go down overnight. It's not about the pace of the transition; it's about who's dictating that pace.
All it takes is for Apple or Google to jump into this game -- full bore -- alongside Starbucks, and we know they're both on the way, and you'll be able to use your smartphone to pay for more than coffee. It's one piece of technology. Comes out of your pocket and takes care of your needs, eliminating things like wallets and money clips.
And, the gaffes of Ballmer and Balsillie aside, the smartphone is now, for all intents and purposes, ubiquitous. Who would've thought you would be paying bills, buying stuff and consuming news and entertainment with the darn things multiple times a day less than a decade into the iPhone's domination? That reality alone provides more than enough ammo to counter the fantasy that mobile payments will remain "marginal for the foreseeable future."
Written by Rocco Pendola in New York City