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Taking the Card Case out for a spin

Card Case allows you to pay for goods and services without you pulling out wallet.

Tess Vigeland: So after I signed up for Card Case, I figured, why not take it out for a spin, right? Turned out Hollywood Pies was a pizza joint. And I needed to go out in the morning, so that wasn't going to work. But a juice bar sounded juuuuuust right.

Vigeland on the street: So we're in downtown Los Angeles, here at Sixth and Spring, walking into Sustain Juicery. And I feel very strange not having any money on me. I don't even have a wallet.

Vigeland in juice bar: Hello.

Cashiers: Hi!

Vigeland: So, what do you recommend?

Cashier: The Green Monkey is great for in the morning. It's got lots of fruit, so it'll wake you up a little bit. And then the spiurlina and kale added to it make a protein as well.

Vigeland: Let's try that. The Green Monkey.

Cashier: Green Monkey. OK.

Vigeland: Now what do I owe you, as you type on your iPad here?

Cashier: Comes out to $7.50.

Vigeland: And my name is Tess Vigeland. Am I there on your system?

Cashier: It is, right there. First visit.

Vigeland: And that's my photo!

Cashier: Perfect.

Vigeland: OK, so I don't even have to give you a credit card or anything.

Cashier: Nope.

Vigeland: I don't even have to show you my phone.

Cashier: Nope not at all. We have a picture ID, so everything can run pretty smooth. All we have to do is hit "charge." That's it.

Vigeland: OK.

Cashier: Makes life easy.

Sound of blender.

As she blended my drink, I chatted with juice bar owner Brian Lee about how well this system works for him.

Vigeland: OK, that is delicious.

Brian Lee: Thank you very much.

Vigeland: So do you have people come in very often to use this?

Lee: Yes, I have a handful of customers who are currently using this Card Case. They like the benefit of not needing to reach into their pocket and create that sort of loyalty base, which I also offer 10 percent discounts for Card Case users. Card Case actually tracks the amount of times they've been in. So let's say if they exceed 10 times in a month, they'll receive a discount.

Vigeland: So it provides a benefit to you, because it's another reason for them to come in.

Lee: Absolutely.

As we talked, Lee noticed that another photo popped up on his screen. Another customer in the store using Card Case.

Vigeland: Oh! Someone else is in here using it.

Lee, to customer: You just got on?

Vigeland: Did you really?

Lee: He just realized it. So he will definitely receive that discount very shortly.

Vigeland: So are you a regular customer?

Man: Yeah. I haven't been racking up loyalty, so now I will. I've been coming here for three months, and now they'll know how often I come in.

A Card Case convert. And why not?

About the author

Tess Vigeland is the host of Marketplace Money, where she takes a deep dive into why we do what we do with our money.
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seven fifty for a smoothie, wow! i'm impressed.

what was your price break point, ten fifty?

We have been experiencing an economy that resulted from people spending more money than they actually have. I don't see how this is going to help. Now you don't even have to have the money in hand to make an impulse buy; instead there is this illusion of endless funds....until you need to pay a bill and find your bank account has been emptied by a few too many purchases of high end drinks. I don't think we've learned anything from recent events...conspicuous consumption for wants instead of needs goes on and for no good reason than showing off gadgets many people really can't afford if they added up the real costs. Not to mention the potential hackers have for breaking into these systems. I'm really worried I'm going to forced into using expensive and vulnerable systems that disassociates me from my money to greater and greater degrees. How can we value something we never touch? The young particularly have an illusion that the money goes on and on, especially if their parents are foolish enough to bail them out without teaching them some fiscal restraint. I don't see how all this gadgetry does anything but makes the situation worse for those of us who aren't part of the increasingly fat 1%.

I guess it is OK if people waste tons of money. Maybe I missed it, but I didn't hear a word said about the monthy fees people have to pay for wireless devices that they can then use to buy stuff (like a $7.50 smoothie)....and wind up barely making it through the year. The mobile web access alone is going ot run people..easily...many hundreds of dollars/year. And, what is funniest is that the non 1%-ers are the ones squandering what is left of their money on toys and gimmicks. No problem....they can buy a web enabled car by borrowing money for that too...and then pay monthly rates for the webby stuff in the car too. It would be nice if journalists...yes, business journalists, would make costs and financial downsides more clear.

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