Why I will never use the Groupon app ever again and the problem with NFC

May 28th, 2011

I love Groupon, and Living Social, and all of the other daily deals web site. Now, I very seldom go anywhere unless I have a groupon. The deals are simply great. I would usually print out the groupons, and at the end of my my meal (or whatever the service is) hand it to the proprietor. Last night, I didn’t get a chance to print out the groupon, so I whipped out my droid, pulled up the Groupon App, opened up the groupon, and revealed the Groupon code to the waitress. The waitress, who lucked nice enough, looked at it, said thank you, and told me “You will need to part with your phone” while she scanned the info. I thought to myself, did she honestly want me to hand over my phone, while she takes it to wherever it is she is taking it, for however long she needs it, to scan the info. I couldn’t even estimate how much valuable information is on my phone, information I would rather not share. I almost asked if I could escort her while she has custody of my phone, but I thought better of that. During the 2 minutes I was without my phone, and I knew someone else had access to it, I was not a happy camper. I got it back, and as best as I can tell, she did nothing but scan the groupon. Needless to say, I will never use the Groupon app again. I will always print out the groupon.

Google’s new NFC technology, Google Wallet works well at a convenience story type checkout, or maybe at a vending machine, but what about at a restaurant? Unless the server can bring a NFC scanner to the table, you have to forfeit your phone for some indeterminate period of time. Handing over my credit card just doesn’t raise the same types of issues.  Any concerns about NFC are nil compared to handing over your lifeline (literally) to someone you don’t know or trust. What if they steal a password? Plan spyware on the phone? Read my personal messages?Hacking is so much easier when you have a phone in front of you, and any screen lock passwords are disabled.

Something to think about.