Friday, May 04, 2007

Online receipts and my bank account

I always lose my receipts - they're small bits of paper that get trapped in bags and thrown out, or lost in draw clutter, or blown out of my wallet.

Apart from costing me money when I need to make a claim, this puts me at risk of identity theft, since receipts often contain my full bank account details.

So, why not move to using web receipts? That way, I can confidently shred my paper receipts immediately, in the knowledge that the data is secured online. And it brings plenty of benefits, such as accessibility, search and storage, and hyperlinks from my online bank statement.

Online Receipts and my Bank Account
The idea is simple. I already have online logins with plenty of retailors, for example my local supermarket (Tescos). Whenever I make a purchase at Tescos, either online or in the store using card details it recognizes as mine, it should create a receipt web page.

I can imagine logging in to Tescos and being able to view details for every purchase I've made, each at a unique URL. I can treat each URL as a receipt by printing it off.

And what's more, Tescos could pass this URL to my bank, so it appears in my online bank statement.

Then I could browse my bank statement online, find an entry I didn't quite understand at Tescos, and click to be taken directly to the receipt for more information (via Tesco's login page).

No new technology
The beauty of this plan is that it doesn't rely on any new technology.

Retailors already have websites, and already store details of every purchase in their databases. All they have to do is put these details on their website so that only the purchaser can access them.

And banks already have online statements. There is often even a rarely used field for each transaction that could be used to store a URL.

And there's an easy migration path, with clear incentives. The old way of doing things still works, but people would prefer using retailors if their receipts were online, and would also prefer using banks that provided hyperlinks from their statement to their receipts.

1 comment:

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