Digital Receipts and NFC

has gotten a lot of hype lately, primarily for its role in
facilitating electronic payments with your smartphone.

I’m more interested in how it can enable the electronic
propagation of the end product of the transaction: the receipt. In
an ideal world such transaction records include not only the
payment itself, but an itemized inventory of exactly what the
transaction entailed, communicated using industry standard
identifiers such as UPC identifiers and standardized units. NFC is
simply the beachhead for such a more general transaction
communications platform.

I’d like to see government make this mandatory for businesses over a certain size. The government loves
additional data sharing points like this — even where it doesn’t
directly gather the data — as it provides checks and balances that
can be used to find evidence of tax evasion. If the cryptographically-signed, itemized purchases for an expense report claim from business
A don’t mesh up with the sales records of business B, closer
scrutiny is inevitable.

Aside from the obvious benefit to corporate purchase tracking,
from an end-consumer perspective wouldn’t it be ideal to have an
itemized list of everything you’ve purchased, in detail? Given that
we’re in the era when Groupon-style virtual coupon-clipping is now
cool, this would enable purchase optimizations, running your
history through mining tools to provide optimization hints and to
encourage more vigorous competition in the industry.

You would have saved $57.65 last month if you did

It would root out and highlight loss leaders and non-optimal

The 40″ LED television you purchased at BigBox Retailer
was a good deal, but the $98 Vanilla Brand HDMI cable they
convinced you to purchase was higher priced than at 98% of

It would allow for more enlightened, fact-based personal
finances, which is an area where fantasy usually dominates.

Some would opt out of this, which is why I imagine it would be
voluntary. Personally I’m not too concerned whether Big Brother
knows how many waffles or cartons of chocolate milk we’ve purchased
in the month, but I can see use for the data.