I just signed up for Dexit, a direct payment smartcard thing that’s just starting up in downtown Toronto. It looks useful, if only to cut down the huge amount of small change I have.
The ergonomics of the card could be better. It’s about the width of a quarter, but twice as thick, so doesn’t fit well into your credit-card wallet. I think it’s supposed to go on your keyring, but I don’t often carry one. We’ll see how it goes.
I was vaguely tempted to give Dexit a go, but then I thought a little more about what they could be doing with the data. In some ways, Dexit sounds like Mondex, but done slightly better (Mondex didn’t have the ability to cancel a card or recover stolen money, IIRC).
Both systems have no anonymity, which is still the major benefit of cash. Now, I don’t particularly care if Dexit knows that I like to have a coffee in the morning, but I don’t need Second Cup and Starbucks getting into a bidding war for my custom.
Chaum has had some great ideas, but little success with the implementation side of things. Digital cash will continue to give me the heebie-jeebies until it has all of the positive characteristics of traditional cash, along with the benefits that digital systems can provide.
I was told that Dexit was registered as a financial institution in Canada, therefore they are subject to the same privacy requirements of the banks and they cannot just mine data from individual profiles like those marketing companies.
Personally I would think it’s convenient and worth trying. If more people use it, there’ll be less line up and more people will benefit.
I still think it’s kinda pointless – are we really in that much of a hurry, people? You can’t wait for like 1 minute while your debit card goes through? or carry a small amount of cash?
People give the impression that they were constantly walking around with fourteen pounds of loose change before this came along.
I also can’t get past the fact that with the $1.50 charge for every $100 (or part thereof) loaded, it’s like paying a 1.5% (or more) tax for a small convenience. I guess my position is, use it if you like, but for me, I’m not in that much of a hurry. Maybe if you are you should re-evaluate your life, and stop to smell the roses once in a while.
You can tell me that the $1.50 is cheaper than lots of debit transactions but I’ll reply to you that I use no-fee banking – I really think it’s dumb to use a bank that charges you for spending money, I dunno … try it! it really works!
Just my 2 cents, don’t get mad at me.
Ryan, I have a deep aversion to small change, especially since Canadian coins come in such broken denominations. Adding tax after the ticket price is just dumb, and creates buckets of small change.
There are few roses to smell in the scrum that is Toronto Union Station before 8am — but there are many armpits. Me, I prefer getting on the train as quickly as possible to missing the train and having to wait an hour for the next one.
As regards no-fee banking, you can’t get that if you’re a new immigrant with no credit history in Canada. I am in the process of applying a no-fee account, but I was turned down by PC Bank last year because of my status.
I am a user of dexit, I enjoy it very much. It saves so much time and I am always in a rush, I didn’t know how useful it was going to be until I got it.