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Credit Cards Hasten Arrival of Self-Service Economy

[Aug 20, 2007.]


Thanks to the fact that so many consumers carry credit cards nowadays, the self-service economy is booming.

If you go to your local supermarket, you may end up checking yourself out with the help of your handy credit card. When you go to the airport, you may be able to check in with a swipe of your card.

As a result, other businesses may be following suit, meaning that your credit card can be the ticket to greater convenience at fast food restaurants and even at medical offices.

Interestingly enough, the Cheesecake Factory restaurant and Caribou Coffee are now using IBM customer kiosks to maintain recipes and to deal more effectively with orders. Record stores are also turning to kiosks to help consumers manage their music selections.

It's been estimated that nearly a million customer kiosks will be installed in North America by year's end. The number could be well over a million by 2009.

Kiosks have become such a convenient tool in health care that hospitals are permitting patients to use them for scheduling appointments, viewing lab results, and completing insurance forms. Check-in and registration periods can be reduced significantly when customer kiosks are used.

Credit card-driven technology may also be on the rise because of the technological prowess of the buying public. Many consumers are used to operating computers, iPods, and cell phones, so they think nothing of serving themselves through handy kiosks. Because consumer time is so valuable, they may welcome the change to self-service because of the incredible time savings involved.

Yet, some consumers may continue to pass up self-service kiosks in favor of manned registers and registration desks. For these consumers, the personal touch means everything. They're willing to wait in line a little longer so long as they get a chance to make a personal connection as they make their credit card transactions.

Julie Ann Amos
August 20th 2007

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