Immediate Gratification: a story of software activation

I freely admit it.
I am one of those people.
A generation raised to want it…and want it now.
Instant gratification is, often, my expectation.
There is no beauty in the “wait” and I have little patience for it.

For example, I recently purchased a piece of software to automate a relatively mundane task related to managing my corporate e-mail. I sent my payment in (directly through the application) and waited for the activation key to arrive. Imagine my horror when…48 hours later…it still hadn’t arrived. In all, it took about 60 hours from the time of payment until being able to use the application in a fully licensed mode.

My expectation was that of immediacy. I submitted payment and sat waiting for the key to arrive. If you haven’t purchased software in this fashion before…typically payment is rendered and the key is delivered nearly real-time. This is my assumption (perhaps expectation) when purchasing software in this fashion. Immediacy. I was actually taken aback when that expectation wasn’t met.

And yet, in the grand scheme of things, 60 hours for purchase to activation really isn’t that horrifying. In fact, it is relatively fast…but the expectation for immediacy overrode logical thinking.

While ranting at my e-mail waiting for the key…I began to think about the world of payments.

Merchant account application can take up to 60 days.

This is incredibly counter-intuitive. Small Business owners repeatedly indicate that their decision about payment tender acceptance is made at the time of presentment. Perhaps stated more simply:

“Do you take this?”

“Ummm. Should I?”

And yet, there is the interminable wait. A wait caused by paper-based processes, by hefty KYC and risk analysis, by the complexity of completing underwriting and boarding to a processing back-end, etc.

In the days of terminal prevalence (and even today in situations where hardware remains prevalent) this was acceptable. Much of the delay could be “hidden” in the shipping time for hardware.

And yet, my own impatience caused me to wonder how the issue will be addressed as payment software continues to overtake payments hardware. When I can download my POS software, or line-of-business app (highly verticalized or extraordinarily broad) will I be as comfortable with the “wait” as I would be when hardware must be shipped?

What’s your perspective? Agree? Disagree? Anything to add? Critiques? The comment form is below…

May 13, 2009

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