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Technology Untapped: Virtual Wallets

It has been my contention over the last few years that the United States is extremely far behind in implementing virtual wallets. What I mean by this is the ability to purchase things with a simple swipe of your cell phone, and the amount purchased either billed to your cell phone bill, or have some sort of application storing your credit card information.

I very rarely carry cash now a days, lugging around a wallet with credit or debit cards as well as other forms of identification is just a hassle, when I already carry my cell phone. Let’s face it most of us would rather forget our wallet at home than forget our phone. I would go as far as saying that the majority of us would rather LOSE our wallets than lose our cell phones. When you lose your wallet simply make a few phone calls and get the cards replaced, lose your phone your out a few hundred bucks. I digress, with more retail becoming automated it just makes sense for our payment methods to evolve. Why can’t I buy a soda out of a machine with a swipe of my cell phone? I either need a few singles or a bunch of change. Hassle.

nokia-6131-nfc-mobile-payment-trialAsia has already implemented this technology in the global market. My brother lived in Tokyo for a year and you could not only pay for everything with your cell phone, but pretty much buy anything out of a vending machine.

Now you might be saying “What about your drivers license and pictures and such?”. Well, we already have our pictures on our phones, and there is really no reason why we couldn’t put all our drivers license information on them also. Imagine how much the State of California alone would save if 40 percent of the population didn’t need physical drivers licenses. When you get pulled over the officer scans your virtual drivers license with a handheld scanner to obtain all contained information. Gieco already lets me access my insurance card with their iPhone application although they say it’s not suitable to hand to law enforcement.

In the midst of writing this article it has been reported that Apple has new interest in Near Field Communication (NFC), which is a short range wireless technology that supports such services as “tap and go” credit card payments. This technology has been implemented with “tap and go” credit cards payment systems.

The report is significant due to speculation that Apple will be implementing this technology in the fifth generation iPhone.  This technology will allow a user to swipe their phone in front of their Mac and keep a portable version of their Mac on their phone. The benefit of this is that when you are in proximity of another Mac you will be able to load al your setting on that Mac and when the phone is out of range the computer returns to it’s previous state. We will discuss this more in depth in another article her on Techno Buffalo.

With this type of technology in hand, and rumored to be implemented in the next iPhone, you can’t help but think Apple is already developing some sort of payment system to implement in the future. Very rarely does Apple look at cutting edge technologies and look to implement them on only one platform. Maybe we will see virtual wallets implemented a bit sooner than I had initially expected, but frankly it can’t come soon enough, as I have just attempted to buy a soda out of a machine and found I only had a $5 bill. Cash, what a hassle!

How would you feel about the prospectus of ditching your leather wallet in favor of a virtual one? What other types of implementation are you looking forward to with this type of technology?


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Tom Moccia

Tom Moccia is a native of Stamford, Connecticut and moved his family west in 2000 and now calls Stockton, California home with his wife and two...Tom Moccia is a native of Stamford, Connecticut and moved his family west in 2000 and now calls Stockton, California home with his wife and two...


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