Paper Receipts. Why are they not electronic already?!

I am no fan of receipts. They suck. No matter what I shop for, I end up with one of these. I hate that I have to do something about them — shred, throw away (and unnecessarily worry about identity theft), or store them. What a huge waste of paper it is to have millions and millions of receipts generated every year. I realize some stores ask you if you’d like a receipt, but most don’t. I’m sure most have the option of not printing a receipt but I don’t want to be asking the cashier every single time to not print a receipt for me. I do want the receipt. I just don’t want it in my pocket.

All stores should do away with receipts – as in not stop generating them, but make them electronic. To my knowledge, the only store that does this is The Apple Store. They allow me the option to have my receipt emailed to me. I heart that. It’s there in my inbox, I can access it any time if needed, search for it, and best of all, I simply walk away knowing the receipt is safely sitting in my mail.
I don’t have to shred. I don’t have to store. I don’t have to dispose.

Somebody needs to start a company that offers this service. Tie up with stores and merchants, restaurants, Walmart, Whole Foods, Target, 7-Eleven, mom-and-pop stores – the customer is at every nook and corner.

I propose a SaaS solution that
– interfaces with various merchant systems via secure and reliable protocols
– receives transactions when customers make purchases
– generates e-receipts that customers can access anytime, anywhere
– enforces strict privacy controls on access of this data

This would be an opt-in service for the customer. If the end consumer wishes to participate, create a personal ID with the service and present this ID (for instance a card) at purchase time. Once your purchase is complete, the merchant’s system automatically sends this data to the service, in a secure and private manner.

I think this would be a hugely profitable service. Most big stores would save a ton of money on the paper that these receipts consume. It’s eco-friendly, saves paper. It saves the customer a ton of trouble. No more shredding. Lesser identity theft by way of dumpster diving and such.

What do you think?