An Improvement to NFC and Contactless Payment Systems

A few days ago, I was at a grocery store that allows me to tap a credit card to pay, or I can use Apple Pay via my iPhone or Apple Watch. But at the end of the transaction, the machine spits out a paper receipt that will eventually go into the trash. The idea of a paper receipt, especially given how common digital payment transactions have become, seems a little archaic. I started to think about it, and it seems like this should be a reasonably easy fix. First, the NFC protocols should be updated to support sending receipt information back to a mobile device using the XML or JSON formats. Second, Apple and Google should update their devices to natively receive this information at the end of the transaction and include the information in some sort of secure document space. On the Apple side, it seems like a “receipts” section could be added to the Wallet app to facilitate this.

The only downside I see is that you’d have to keep your mobile device close to the NFC reader for a few seconds longer, as you’d need to wait for the transaction to be authorized with the bank, and come back as “Approved”. Maybe there should be another prompt after the transaction is approved that asks the customer if they’d like a receipt and gives them the options of:

  1. Yes, Printed
  2. Yes, Digital
  3. No

If the customer selects option number 2, they’d be prompted to hold their mobile device up to the payment terminal again so that the receipt information could be transferred.

I think this would allow more opportunities for budgeting apps as well because you’d be able to import the receipt information into your list of transactions, enriching the data already gained by being connected to your bank account.