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I’m trying to decide whether this is a great service or a great folly. Several things about the MobileLime payment service bother me:
• Requires an account with a payment processor (MobileLime) other than my credit card company: hence, another institution to trust with critical identity information; and another bill for me to deal with at the end of the month
• Uses the last four digits of my cellphone number as my sole credential into the MobileLime payment service; a step backward from the nominal two-factor authentication method of presenting a physical credit card and affixing my signature to a payment form; more critically, it uses a very public string of numbers as my “PIN” (or what have you) into the service; we are talking phone number here, the very same number I give to many people, and publish on my business card;
• Requires customers to identify the merchant they want to use about an hour before making a purchase; this sounds like the payment card equivalent of Viagra; few people pre-plan their spending that way; most spend spontaneously, or without elaborate arrangements; this “security” feature of MobileLime totally destroys the supposed convenience of the service; few people, for example, pre-arrange to be picked up by a particular taxi company; consequently, the taxi example that opens the story is entirely bogus
• Requires that customers subject themselves to mobile text-message spam for ads and promotions from participating merchants; this is either a service or disservice to the customer, and I’d bet that most would regard it is as the latter; it’s more of an in-your-face marketing service to merchants, like the obnoxious spam, pop-ups, interstitials, and banner ads we’ve had to swallow on the Web
The supposed time you save quoting those four digits is negligible, compared with the speed with which a wireless-enabled mobile credit card reader can operate. Shave ten seconds off the tail end of your next cab ride. If you’re that pressed for time, then you haven’t prearranged your travel schedule with enough buffer time to keep you from missing your connection. And if you can’t prearrange your travel schedule, then you certainly can’t prearrange the next several impulse purchases you’re going to make while rushing to that next appointment. Keep your cellphone in your pocket and make a mad dash for it.