I had a chance to try the Cake app at The Proud Archivist the other day and took it, encouraged partly by the ‘£10 off your bill’ offer but mostly by the chance to test another of the many payment apps, systems and things out there as the market is intriguing me.
It’s a nice app, very nice in a design sense, and the process of signing up and using it was surprisingly smooth. Later on I visited their marketing site to learn more and found this “No Card. No Cash. No Hassle” line an interesting claim to lead on, because I did technically have to use my card and spend some hassle to get it set up and running. Smooth and nice looking hassle, but hassle nonetheless.
Yes, the set up process only has to happen once, but systems that claim to make things easier but still require bank card faff and interference to start with just feel wrong somehow. Like they’re creating more of a problem than they’re solving.
Downloading an app, setting up an account and entering card details even once is barrier to doing something that I can already do with the cash in my pocket or with the very bank card that’s required to sign up to the service.
Because of that barrier, Apple Pay is going to clean up in the app / device payment area I think. They’ve effectively high-jumped that barrier in fact by virtu of having you already up-and-over their own iPhone and Apple ID barriers. With a new iPhone and a few very simple settings I can pay straight away. No new accounts, or apps to download, or bank cards to validate against because it’s all already done.
While the chase is still technically on for digitising our wallets and streamlining payment points, I can’t help but believe that between Apple, Google, PayPal, Amazon, and the old incumbent banks, that it’s futile for independents to keep developing apps that try to streamline classic financial payments involving old school banking systems. Sorry Cake. For the sake of you’re lovely looking app though I do hope I’m wrong.
Or, maybe I’m just overly inspired by Zero to One with this belief right now (having only recently gotten round to read it), with apps like Cake seeming more like One to N solutions, building on the existing and exhausted financial systems and not actually innovations or alternatives to it. Which is fine. But innovations are more fun!
Full on Zero to One innovations in payments are still out there though I wager. I’ll put money on that. How I might settle that debt is another, though possibly closely related matter.