You remember your first mobile phone.
The feel in your hand, not wanting to let go. Receiving your first text and playing hours of ‘snake’. It was exciting enough to change the colour of your phone’s skin, let alone buy your first phone with a colour screen.
These days, your phone is your torch, alarm clock, map, camera, email service, music player and recipe book – and ‘snake’ has transformed into Angry Birds, Flappy Bird and everything in between.
So what’s your phone going to morph into next? Some industry watchers are predicting that soon, your phone will also be your wallet.
The mobile wallet
There are already a number of tech companies creating the kinds of platforms needed to let consumers pay with their phones.
Google, of course, has already jumped in on this potentially lucrative market with Google Wallet. You can use this to make purchases on any current Google platform (such as Google Drive or YouTube) as well as a growing number of e-commerce sites with a Google Wallet account. This account will also let you keep all your store membership details and gift cards (saving you from carrying a brick of store cards) and will even let you transfer money to friends who also have accounts. Google’s wallet technology is currently only available in the US, but if the system goes well, there’s no reason why it wouldn’t end up on our shores in the not-too-distant future.
LoopPay is another company leading the charge against real life wallets. They have a fob that you attach to your keyring, a case for iPhone 5 and 5s or an app to choose from – each of which allows users to store their payment info, loyalty and gifts cards all in the same place. The trick to this one is that it is already usable with about 90 per cent of credit and debit card readers around the world, and all consumers have to do is hold the fob or case up to the card swipe slot and push a button.
Isis is another company giving this phone-to-wallet conversion a go. Using Near Field Communication technology and enhanced SIM cards, the Isis system works a little like the wireless credit cards currently flooding the market. At the moment, it’s only available on a few carriers in the states, but the technology is there and certainly has the potential to grow and grow.
These are just three of the companies taking on this challenge, but there are many more (such as Square, which is reportedly already handling $2 billion a year in credit card transactions) taking part in the switch.
Do you think you’ll give up the wallet and use your phone instead?
And how will this impact or change the future of the humble plastic credit card, like those on offer through Virgin Money?