Question 188 of 365: What did we buy?

First 4 digits of a credit card
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Credit card companies are stupid. Not for any of the crazy backwards pricing structures or 0% percent nonsense that they send out 100 times a year in the mail. Not for the hope of fre money or the predatory lending that happens every day.

They are stupid because they haven’t turned spending money into a game, at least not any more than playing with a piece of plastic and getting people to give you objects for swiping it into a machine.

If credit card companies were smart, they would create a virtual representation of everything that is purchased and put it into a virtual house for you. If they really had everything together, they would make The Sims into a carbon copy of everything that we buy.

On the one hand it would make people realize everything that they are consuming because they would have to lug it around their virtual world. On the other, it would allow us to start setting up an economy that is a direct copy of everything our real economy values. It would allow us to trade what we cant trade in real life, to own what we have always owned and what we will own in the future.

Rather than bogus rewards systems, we could be rewarded with the game of life. The real one, the one we pay for every day.

Think of this:

The gas that we buy for our real cars will make the virtual cars go. The fast food that we purchase will show up in our guts in the online game. The electronic devices that we purchase are forever in existence, long after their usefulness is gone. We could see the entertainment costs and the costs of not entertaining ourselves at all. We could see how happy our virtual counterparts are and reflect on the way our real selves feel. We could actually see what our debt gets us and the real affects of our consumption have on the world around us.

Most people still find the idea of purchasing virtual goods to be ludicrous, but purchasing real goods that have virtual counterparts just makes sense. We do this when we buy cd’s and get mp3 files as well. We do this when we buy neopets and farmville slushies. W just need to do this for everything. We need to have a way to publish all of our purchases for the purpose of creating a more intimate relationship with out goods and services.

The way I see it, the first bank to do this will be the one that gets to dictate the price of goods and services from that point forward. Because once everything is both virtual and physical, the virtual economy will become just as important as the one that provides us with sustenance and substance. Once a single bank doubles our buying power by duplicating every line item on a receipt, they will literally be printing their own money. They will own the game and every transaction could me monitized.

The only question I still have, is why aren’t the credit card companies so stupid as to not see this?

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0 Comments

  1. Kadding1

    I think this is a great idea. Very interesting, but I think you have it a bit backwards. People are not going to want to go online via their bank to visit their virtual stuff. What is more possible is a true social networking site puts this kind of idea in motion. And I think Facebook and Second Life have thought about this and at least dipped their toes into pool. They want their own currency, but have struggled to make the exact connection you are talking about. If I had to guess who was going to bridge this gap first it would be the social networking sites and not the banks. I can see where people might feel comfortable connecting their mint.com account to their facebook account. And when these social networking sites figure out how to make this connection between our bank accounts and their advertisers they will really become the driving force of commerce and media. Then sill things like farmville slushies, or a visual representation of how you spend your money, or serious things like a mortgage broker will become very accessible via social networking sites.

  2. Probably you are right. Clearly it is an evolutionary process between
    what exists now and what will inevitablly be coming to drive our
    economy to be more and more a part of the virtual goods economy. I get
    that people are distrustful of banks and are more trusting of the
    place that they have connected to. But I think that banks are the ones
    with more money and I also believe that they will partner with
    Facebook to do this. Mint.com is a stopgap measure because the
    information doesn't come through automatically (or, at least not
    completely). If they figure out how to do that and work with
    virtualizing transactions and making them more concrete, I think we
    will get there faster. I just wondered out loud why I don't see any
    folks who are supposed to be very good at making money, making more
    money from what is clearly where everyone is spending more and more of
    their time. Thanks for the comment and for pushing my thinking a bit
    more.

  3. Jacqueline L Cahill

    Your idea…wee-bit different concept: I think this is a very appealing idea (and probably has a lot of possible grant funding due to it being a hot topic right now) if you started with creation of that with the food we eat and what it does to us. Hot topic of health and obesity. I think it would a beneficial learning tool also…kids really enjoy that type of learning…just read another research article on obesity and children increasing in our country. Perhaps it could be combined with the exercise component too…maybe even more advanced ones with sleep and stress also.

  4. Yeah. I think that anything that can tie our everyday habits to analytics is
    going to get us to someplace interesting. Right now, we do a really good job
    of tracking where we go on websites or what programs we use on the computer,
    but as for tracking the things that will make us healthy, it is an
    incredibly arduous process. I don't think I will pursue this idea too much
    because of other things I've got cooking, but I do think that it is worth a
    look.

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