If you log into your credit card account you'll see a list of charges, each with a date, amount, and merchant. It would be helpful if this also included receipt data:

  • If you didn't recognize a charge, seeing what it was for could remind you.

  • If you needed a receipt for taxes or reimbursement one could be captured automatically.

  • Personal finance tools (or corporate equivalents for company cards) could track spending with higher granularity.

  • Because the credit card company knows what the items are they can better detect fraud.

Receipt data isn't currently part of the protocol used for charges; you'd need to spec out something that let companies communicate everything a receipt can communicate today. This would be a very large change, but everyone who would need to make changes can have incentives in the right direction:

  • The card company likes it because it can market their card as supporting receipts and better detect fraud.

  • The merchant likes it because they see fewer chargebacks and the credit card company probably gives them slightly better rates.

  • Point-of-sale makers like it because they get to sell a lot of upgrades.

The main downside I can think of, aside from it being a lot of work, is that people might not want their credit card company knowing the particular products they bought. The company would probably want to sell this to marketers, though there would be plenty of time to pass regulations limiting that if we wanted to. Personally, I don't mind: the merchant is probably already selling my purchase information or will soon. And the money the credit card company gets from selling the data, since it's a competitive market, probably mostly gets passed on as higher cardholder incentives or higher incentives to merchants to adopt receipt sharing.

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I work in the area. In the EMV specification the receipt content is already saved electronically and is somewhat standardized, see, for example https://www.mastercard.us/content/dam/mccom/global/documents/transaction-processing-rules.pdf. What is missing is for the consumers and point-of-sale owners to be able to access it easily. The receipt does not identify the product sold, by the way, but enough details to verify the transaction's occurrence.

Of course, if your chipped card is stolen and pinless tap is supported for small purchases, no transaction verification helps you to avoid fraudulent charges. And if someone has your card and knows your pin (which still can be skimmed with card skimmers), then you are likely on the hook for all transactions up until you report your card stolen.

This used to be common, called "country club billing". most credit cards stopped it in the 70s, American Express continued it through part of the 90s. It's expensive for merchants and card processors, not valued by most customers, and as far as I know nobody is seriously considering bringing it back.

The various contradictory incentives about data privacy and who knows what when are all trivial compared to the amount of work it'd take, for no significant value to customers. The number of humans who bother to keep and categorize receipts is TINY, and it's probably correlated with not spending very much on credit-card fees. Attracting these customers may well be negative-value, but even if it's positive, it's not worth much effort.

It looks to me like country club billing stopped because at a time when everything was done on paper it was far too much work. If the purchase information was sent as part of getting the transaction approved then you can use it for fraud prevention in a way that wasn't possible in the 1970s.

Stores don't want to do this for the same reason they make prices that change frequently, are one cent off from round numbers, and are in the least legible font that is legally permissible. They want paying attention to prices to be inconvenient, because paying attention decreases spending and shifts that spending towards lower margin items.

Do you think this would decrease spending appreciably? I would be very surprised. (And if it doesn't decrease spending, or only decreases it slightly, then getting a better rate from the card company is enough to motivate them.)

Right, they would certainly do it if you paid them enough (and lowering the fee is a form of payment); this is a reason why the price would be higher.

Something very close to this is done with fleet cards (cards given by long-haul trucking companies to their drivers to pay for gas and other expenses). At the high-end, these cards capture a great deal of data, comparable to a receipt. (Not exactly equivalent -- it's more detailed then a typical receipt for some data fields, but doesn't include everything that can be put on a receipt). It's expensive to implement and maintain these sorts of data capture systems, since a receipt is very flexible about the data it can contain. As a result, more broad implementation doesn't make financial sense. The fraud gains are minimal. It's worth doing in the fleet card segment because it helps with a) expense tracking, b) enforcing agreements between the large trucking companies and the chain gas stations regarding fuel discounts, and c) optimizing the choice of gas station (trading off the route efficiency against lower fuel prices). When I last consulted in the industry, this kind of data capture wasn't even a close to being profitable for general-purpose credit cards. (It's been ~5 years so my knowledge may be a bit out of date.) If you scaled back the requirements, it might be feasible.

I just tried reading some about fleet cards, and found this exxon faq and this sales page. It sounds like the number of gallons gets sent automatically, and you can set up the card to prompt for an odometer reading to be sent too. This is neat, though very fuel-specific.

When you say "at the high-end, these cards capture a great deal of data, comparable to a receipt", what are you thinking of?

The fraud gains are minimal.

Why do you say that? I would expect comparing what was being purchased to a model from this user's history and a model of fraudulent transactions would be very helpful!

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