Have you ever had the strong urge to give your hard-earned money to someone strumming “Dust in the Wind” out of key at a vacant intersection? Well, neither have I. But London-based issuer Barclays hopes our apprehension will disappear with its new approach to street charity: a wireless, touchless, credit card accepting guitar.
The financial institution unveiled the instrument Thursday, Aug. 26, in London during a publicity stunt promoting its “contactless technology.” People passing by a street musician — known as a “busker” — were handed prepaid cards loaded with £5 and were instructed to wave it near the head of the guitar. The money was then taken off the card and donated to the Help a London Child charity.
Contactless cards aren’t exclusive to Barclays’s, but they all work the same: By using radio-frequency identification, or RFID. The card data is stored in a chip inside the plastic and is transmitted using short-range electromagnetic waves emitted by the contactless-card reader. Tollbooths, garage door openers and workplace ID fobs are a few devices that use RFID technology today.
Andy Harris, head of current accounts for Barclays, said the guitar-turned-card-reader demonstrates how quick and easy contactless payments can be. “If a busker can go contactless, then anyone can,” he said.
Seriously? I’m not sure about you, but I don’t know many street musicians that are familiar with electrical engineering and merchant account services. I mean, if someone is having trouble with a C chord, I don’t think giving them a wireless card reader is going to do them any good. Plus, how can someone begging for money accept cards? It’s like asking for a $20 in an Armani suit. Plus, the interchange fees alone would have to make it not worth the trouble.
I know, I know. It’s just a demonstration, and the money went to charity. Great. I just think this is a silly example of some out-of-touch suits trying to market toward what they consider a “hip crowd.” I mean, what’s next? Skinny jeans for babies that accept credit cards?
See related: ‘Contactless’ credit cards spark concerns for data privacy, Contactless credit cards ‘floundering’, Cell phone + contactless credit card = Yak, wave, buy