May 6, 2008

"What have you done for me lately?" (Part 1)

The weather was gorgeous in Aix en Provence this weekend. I browsed through the antiques market on Cours Mirabeau on Sunday, where I found a few old magazine advertisements for banking products (what a geek, right???)

There was a bit of synchronicity involved here. I had just read an op-ed piece by a banker reminding merchants of the old carbon imprint machine days, and how merchants should be happy about today's electronic systems and stop complaining about the cost of interchange. Some of the comments left by others also described the payments world of the 1960's. Then, browsing through the market, I run into these old ads! I had to buy them. I hope you enjoy the ads here. I'll address the folly of bankers living in the past in the next post.

This Crédit Lyonnais ad is from 1960. You could go to any of the 1600 Crédit Lyonnais branches across France and withdraw money simply by showing your checkbook and an ID. Very convenient for the time!

Carte Bleue is a payment card association that came even before the associations which eventually became known as Visa and MasterCard. This 1969 ad shows how the card makes things even more convenient, since you no longer have to present a checkbook and an ID to withdraw cash. Plus, you could use it to pay at 40,000 merchant locations across France. All just by signing. The ad is filled with lots of little things that give an idea of life in the 1960's, including one that surprised me. When you got your card, you were also given a directory of merchants that accept it.

By 1982, Carte Bleue had partnered with Visa and the card offered essentially all the features that we are familiar with today. This ad is now over a quarter century old.

As the song goes, "What have you done for me lately?"

That's part of what merchants are saying today when they complain about interchange fees.

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