Update on the Barclaycard OnePulse. Apparently, getting an application out to me in the mail is too difficult for these guys because I haven’t received it yet. I also don’t quite understand why I have to re-apply for this card. Instead, shouldn’t I, as a valued Barclaycard customer living in London, have been offered the opportunity to upgrade/whatever to the OnePulse card? Big campaign behind this OnePulse thing all over the Tube (see inset: “Welcome to the Future.”) I don’t feel very welcome in your future, Barclaycard. In fact, I’m on the verge of canceling my existing card and writing the whole thing off.

So Barclaycard (the credit card arm of Barclay’s, a major UK-based bank) is rolling out a new product, Onepulse, which more or less combines a few payment instruments into one card. Firstly, it’s a regular “chip and PIN” credit card, now ubiquitous across the UK. Secondly, it’s an Oyster card. Oyster is the brand name for the smart card system now in use across London’s transport network. It’s a “touchless” RFID card that you can either load with money that decrements with each journey or with virtual tickets that allow unlimited travel over a period of time. Oyster has been around since 2003. The third instrument on this Onepulse card, however, is something new, at least for the UK. It’s called “Visa Onetouch” and appears similar to something MasterCard has rolled out in the U.S. called Paypass. So why is this at all interesting? Well. I’m always interested in new smart card technology and how it changes our behavior and impacts our society. I participated in a digital cash trial in Manhattan in 1997 (that famously floundered). I’m an early adopter of this kind of stuff, and I also am drawn to the promise of greater convenience. Convenience was a notably missing element from the Mondex trial in Manhattan (where you had to bring your card to a special equipped ATM and load money on it in order to bring it to a specially equipped vendor so they could schlep out a huge multi-part card reader – for which you would have to use a separate …

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