Slam #1: Secure Digital Receipts

“The majority of people who take them home will not bother to file them.”

if people arent filing them now why would they feel compelled to track them in the future?

I belive that the majority of people feel they should hold onto their receipts (insurance purposes, warrenty information, tracking financial spending, auditing …etc) but lack the motivation to physicaly file them. I do file all my receipts and it is a time consuming process that I do not enjoy doing. I myself would much prefer to have all the data automaticly entered. Another benifit of having the receipts in a digital database is the ability to sort by month, catagory or to easily find a single item.

Right now when I need a receipt, I have to open Money 2004, look through my purchases by catagory, find when I entered the transaction and then go to the coresponding physical envelope for that month, haul out a two inch think pile of paper and then weed through it so I can find the document I need.

The alternative I suggest is having that information in a database. Being able to input a seach for a specific item, for example a car battery and then being able to download that information to another medium or print a copy on paper if required.

So far Sam has made the most sense IMO. YKH is right that people don’t really file their receipts…if you look at the percentages of purchases and receipts kept…unless it’'s a big money item most people don’t even look at the receipt. But if it’s important enough then they file it away. Another pda type thing is overkill. Make it something really cool. I already have some ideas but don’t know what the level we are supposed to help. if they can be electronically stored and reviewed later then t hat makes sense…but with the proliferation of multi-modal systems…e.g. cellphones that take pictures and media players…what your tech should do is improve the experience and tap into the existing technology…cause it’s all going toward one combined system anyway.

Exactly–receipts already are electronically stored. The trick is getting them out of the vendor’s database and into the hand of the consumer, and then allow the consumer to organize that info for a variety of reasons:

  • Taxes
  • Expense Report Filing
  • Warranty/Proof of Purchase
  • Trending (a new possibility…)

I personally don’t use receipts when given the choice. I’ll save those for big-ticket items, but even this is becoming obsolete as many stores don’t require your original since they can track their e-copy of it.

Likewise my paper checkbook has become obsolete. I let my bank manage it for me online and I only use e-checks to pay bills. Everything else is via Debit-card or Credit. When I recently opened a checking account, my bank actually discouraged me from getting a checkbook! Understandably it’s easier for them if everything’s electronic.

…But the one thing my bank reconciliation does NOT show is a breakdown of individual purchases. It may show Target: $153.12, but it doesn’t tell me what I bought there. There’s no reason that the record could not include that data. That would solve my need.

I do plan to include in the concept a system that would allow for the technology to be implemented into diffrent devices capable of securely transmitting and receiving the information. I think it would be great to have retailers include information in your statement but it would require a restructuring of how and what information is sent and received when a transaction takes place.

Everyone seems to be suggesting access to the information on another device which I think is a wonderful idea but it is essential to create something that can stand by it’s self at the same time. The form factor I purpose is not a ten pound brick, it will fit in your existing wallet and take up little more space then an existing credit card.

If you have something I would like to hear it, I don’t think their is any limit to what we can discuss.

I agree with nearly everything that has been said here. I think the point YKH is making is not that people don’t file their receipts but question how it would appeal to those who don’t already. The majority of people may not file receipts but relize the benifits but it out-wheighs the organization and work required to do so. By allowing them to digitialy organize them in a database all the work is removed. They simply place their card into a computer and hit synchronize. No further labour is required on their part.

Your comment about another PDA unit to be overkill is not constructive. I have stated clearly that I feel that the product needs to able to operate functionaly with out incorporating it wtih another peice of technology to appeal to a broad audience and I see no possible way of doing that wihout including a user interface and display. If you can suggest a way to have the user interact with it without the need for a display or user interface I think you must be onto something inovative and would like to hear your ideas. Although I see your point that technology is combining functionality it is not suitable to build something that will only appeal to the minority of society that carries a multifunction PDA. I want to build something that be adopted by banks for all customers, by requiring them to already own and operate a compatable peice of technology you limit the audience who will use this device.

I appreciate all the ideas.

Alot has been discussed since I last visited, that I feel I need to address.

Q: Why do we use reciepts?
A: The IRS, Accounting standards, Law. All government agencies, businesses, and individuals accountable to another governing body will at some time be held accountable for their transactions, and the flow of money. It is therefore generally considered wise to maintain records of transactions, ie reciepts, as evidence.

Q: Are credit card statements, and bank statements sufficient?
A: Not usually! If you purchase more than one item at a time, and more particularly items that would fall under different accounts, they will not be itemized on bank or credit card statements. It is usually very important to keep your accounts straight. You may be aware that some very large companies have gotten into some very hot water lately, for not properly doing so. Dont’t bet on your shopping center being very cooperative when you ask them to retrieve a reciept that you need for your taxes, either.

Q: How thick of a device will my wallet accomodate?
A: A credit card measures 3.375 inches(86mm) x 2.125 inches(54mm) x .03 inches(.76mm) thick. Whith embossing the card measures .05 inches(1.27mm). Most wallets, particularly mens’, are designed to hold 1-3 credit cards per slot. 3 credit cards measure (with embossing) at most .15 inches(3.81mm), nearly the 4mm suggested for the pda-like device.

Q: Will a self-conained unit with user interface be better recieved in developing countries than a system that is integrated into existing technology devices?
A: At this years Consumer Electronics Show (CES) nothing was more apparent than the trend to combine or integrate disparate devices and technology into a single device or platform. People are overwhelmingly sick of carrying arround multiple devices. Not just in the US, but everywhere.
Developing countries believe it or not largely have a greater proliferation of cell phones and pda’s than the US, primarily due to the lack of wired infrastructure in those countries. Many developing countries don’t use reciepts anyway for consumer transactions. And you can just about forget it altogether for third world countries. The main driver for reciepts in consumer transactions in the US is our messed up and overcomplicated tax laws.
If you don’t have a computer, you probably don’t have accounting software, and you probably eiter use a paper ledger or an accountant who will definitely have acconting software.

Q: Why would you even want a digital reciept if not to dump it into your or your accountant’s accounting software?
A: I have no idea. Saving paper is not a sufficient motive. It might make things more eficient, but not for the consumer. I feel that searching through a database of reciepts on a screen that would fit on a credit card sized device with buttons would be a nightmare. Searching might work if the buttons were soft-buttons, meaning the device utilizes a touch screen nearly the size of the device, and buttons only appeared when and where they were needed.

Q: How would you back up a stand alone device? What would you do in the event of loss, theft or damage?
A: The potential loss is much greater in a standalone device.

Q: What is the target market?
A: The target market for this type of thing will initially be the group of people known as “Early Adopters”. These people are always looking for the next new thing. It won’t be until this group has had time to use it and tweak it that it will be ready to market to a brader audience. Trying to initially market a digital reciept device to the late addopers (typically those who don’t have computers, pdas, or cell phones yet) without first achieving a significant market acceptance will almost certainly result in failure.

Q: is the reciept the only part of the system that could be digitized?
A: I imagine that other aspects could also be digitized. The credit card for instance could become digital resulting in less plastic floating arround. You might then could eliminate your wallet. Perhaps even digital ID. Keep your drivers license, Pictures of friends and family, and currency all stored on your “multi-device” (PDA, Cellphone, camera, reciept/accounting device, etc.)

Well, it’s getting late, so this will have t do for now.

Just saw this on Engadget.


Love the idea! As for the battery delema, I think that if I have to keep track of charging more than my cell phone I probobaly wouldn’t. With that in mind, I’m thinking of possible suggesting that whenever the user would make a transaction and “plugged” this “receipt collector” into the terminal the actual downloading of the information would provide anough juice for the thing to continue to work for some time. This “some time” can be a few days or a month. What ever the case, I think that anything you can do to minimize Murphy’s Law would probobaly be benefitial to you and the end user. :smiley:

Good Luck! Can’t wait to see the results!

as easy as it is to ‘CHARGE’ something onto a credit card…couldn’t it be as easy as storing a receipt…?? I like the idea of storing my receipts and not having it clutter my filing cabinet…“print as needed” nowadays everyone has a computer…but of course…to have a HARDCOPY of things, gives you that piece of mind. but…as easy as your credit line being electronically accessible. then it should be the same for “receipts” A terminal (same as the swiping of cards) with a interface to show the receipt…'swipe the card" and ‘save’…sounds fairly easy…but i think another "hand held gadget may cause another rush of more confusing gadgets that the average joe may feel intimidated to buy. Nowadays people pay online…view their statements etc. etc. and those usually can vouche as a “receipt” so I think this is a great idea…but now we also have to think of the average joe. and this can only help them get up to speed. I still carry paper receipts…I HATE IT!!! if there was another way…i hope this idea LAUNCHES!!!

alot to read. i know i’ll be reading again.

i have a grocery store card. they track my purchases. spit out coupons targeting my buying behavior. i carry it. and credit cards. and a wallet. as do most people. why not adapt what we use now? seems theres enough there to repurpose. and doesnt require adding another gadget to the mix.