The business of credit and debit cards is not built on convenience; it's built on ignorance. By using a card rather than writing a check (which has a register), we rarely know what our balance is and easily lose track of how much we've spent. This encourages reckless spending and fattens banks with late fees and overdraft penalties. This does not have to happen. THIS DOES NOT HAVE TO HAPPEN.
Why? Because we live in the age of the iPhone and the Blackberry and sophisticated online banking programs. It would be possible, although suicidal for banks, for us to receive an e-mail or IM from our bank almost immediately after every credit card or debit card transaction telling us what our balance is, warning us if we were approaching our limit, and reminding us that our payment was coming due.
I dream of receiving an email like this:
The only thing stopping such a program? It would cut down on our overspending, and banks are addicted to our ignorance.