Cool but pointless

June 26, 2006

Now here’s a thing to be first on your block with. Our bank has offered us the opportunity to have, wait for it, our own pictures printed on our debit cards!

Yes, we can upload a photo, twiddle it about in various ways and then submit it for printing on our card at next renewal. Actually a word of praise is due to the banking folks for the little picture editing application. Nothing fancy-schmancy but nicely designed and with just enough controls (flip, rotate, resize, position) and a very AJAXy feel; none of those old page refreshes, just nice smooth controls, transparency and graphics.

Of course, you can’t have any old picture on there: imagine what people would do! So they reserve the right to refuse it if it:

  • is not owned by you or you do not have the permission of the owner to reproduce it,
  • contains messages from political groups,
  • portrays illegal or anti-social activities,
  • prominently features company names or logos,
  • shows celebrities, musicians, sports personalities, recognisable cartoons etc.
  • contains phone numbers or website addresses,
  • has provocative, derogatory or sexual content,
  • features naked, or semi-naked images of adults or children,
  • prominently features a well-known product or work of art,
  • contains images of other financial services organisations

Now, cool though this is I can’t imagine why I’d want to do it just at the moment apart from showing off. But I’m puzzled why, if this technology is available, we can’t upload a picture of ourselves and effectively have a card with photo ID on it. If some sort of indication can be put on that retailers should not accept the card from anyone other than the person pictured on the card, voila!

‘Course, it wouldn’t help with “cardholder not present” transactions, and maybe that’s why the banks don’t seem to be too bothered about it. I’ve never understood how Chip and Pin is meant to be more secure than a signature for that matter. I can see how it might be more efficient, but more secure? Nah.

Mind you, I do remember being in the supermarket one day in winter with frozen hands and trying to sign for something. Took me about four attempts to convince the supervisor that I was really me, but try as I might all I could write was a squiggly line. A PIN would have been useful then, or a photo on the card.

Conversely, although I sometimes can’t manage to write it, I’ve never forgotten my signature, whereas I’m starting to get panic attacks now when someone asks me to enter my PIN. Which one is it? Was it a 3 then a 9 or a 9 then a 3? Aargh!

And while we’re on the subject, why is it so hard to do your signature right when it really matters, while you can toss it off without thinking at any other time? I had to sign off the accounts for the pre-school tonight and of course my signature was all over the place, just like when signing a new credit card. I want to go back the the days of putting a thumbprint on things.

Hey, maybe I could upload a picture of my thumbprint the bank site and get that put on my card.

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