Digital Receipts and NFC

NFChas gotten a lot of hype lately, primarily for its role infacilitating electronic payments with your smartphone.

I’m more interested in how it can enable the electronicpropagation of the end product of the transaction: the receipt. Inan ideal world such transaction records include not only thepayment itself, but an itemized inventory of exactly what thetransaction entailed, communicated using industry standardidentifiers such as UPC identifiers and standardized units. NFC issimply the beachhead for such a more general transactioncommunications platform.

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

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

You would have saved $57.65 last month if you did{XYZ}.

It would root out and highlight loss leaders and non-optimalcommerce.

The 40″ LED television you purchased at BigBox Retailerwas a good deal, but the $98 Vanilla Brand HDMI cable theyconvinced you to purchase was higher priced than at 98% ofretailers.

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

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