An awesome concept for Qantas loyalty cards, in which they could be used as credit, debit, and foreign cash cards, is explored on Australian Business Traveller this morning.

The story merits being taken seriously, since the evidence for such a concept becoming real lies in the customer survey questions being circulated by Qantas to its most productive or influential travellers.

Let’s take the notion further. A Qantas move into banking could be the ultimate way of providing shareholders with an escape from the limitations of being an end-of-the-line Australian carrier, as Qantas often says.

It would however carry the risks of retaliation by the finance sector, although we can be certain that this would not include an Australian bank launching a new entrant airline in revenge.

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However the ultimate taste test for consumers would be whether or not the use of a Qantas card in any of the ways mentioned by Australian Business Traveller ended up being a tithe of five cents in every dollar of monies spent, or more, if there were fees on say buying foreign money for virtual wallets, and fees on spending that money.

Consumers might tolerate losing one cent in the dollar, but for those that spend say $100,000 a year on personal or business expenses on charge, debit or credit cards, losing $5000 of that might be totally unacceptable.

(And never mind the supposed status of waving expensive cards around. You want attention in a high end store or hotel or $500 a glass exclusive penthouse wine bars in Asian hotels?  Try a handful of Singaporean $1000 notes, or a Swiss Franc 1000 note, or those cute €500 bills, which Igor, in your entourage,  will produce in his role of being  your personal payment process.)

But back to reality. The Qantas one-card-for-anything approach could become pervasive.  Two features I would think worth adding would be comprehensive travel insurance, so you could wave it at the ambulance crew, and the incorporation of stored value public transport cards like the London Oyster card or those used in Singapore or Hong Kong.

But maybe the line should be drawn for the time being at including Melbourne’s MYKI card, and never forget, identity theft and cloning of stored value cards or credit and debit cards is a huge risk for all parties.

I subscribe to Crikey because I believe in a free, open and independent media where news and opinions can be published that I can both agree with and be challenged by.

As a Crikey subscriber I always feel more informed and able to think more critically about issues and current affairs – even when they don’t always reflect my own political viewpoint or lived experience.

Jess
Singapore

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