Drive up to almost any McDonald’s drive-through window and you will see stickers proclaiming that the restaurant now takes payments through Apple Pay and Android Pay. Visa has just rolled out a program so that New Yorkers can use their phones to pay for the subway. Even the Girl Scouts are taking mobile payments and, as a result, they sold more cookies. Many stores now take these digital payments as well.
The bottom line, of course, is convenience. Why carry credit cards when you can use your phone? Many people have already eliminated physical store loyalty cards by scanning their barcodes and storing them on their phone (I am a big fan of Cardstar, myself). My library card is already on my phone, too. To me, this is the next, logical step.
So, most libraries allow patrons to pay fines online already, and that’s a great thing. But, you know when I am usually reminded about my fines? When I’m at the circulation desk and the staff person says “Hey, did you know that you have X in fines?”
Well, yes, actually, I do recall those fines…and, oh, by the way, I happen to already have my phone out. Since it’s so convenient, how about I just use Android Pay to pay off my bill? Oh, the library doesn’t accept Android Pay? Huh, so I have to dig around for my physical credit card, or wait until I remember to login to my account at home and pay online from my desktop. Considering the state of my purse, neither is a great option…and so fines tend to rack up.
I worry that libraries will, once again, be left behind, when I see things like this:
The number of in-store mobile payment users in the U.S. is predicted to reach 150 million by the end of 2020—which will represent 56% of the consumer population at that time. (Mobile Payments World)
The concept of the phone replacing wallets is not new and is anticipated. Have any libraries looked into this? Is this a holdup on the part of our ILSs? Is it just not on our radars because it’s not (yet) mission-critical?