Smart Spending

Is a Smart Phone Wallet in Your Future?

When Google announced the Google Wallet in September 2011, there were questions raised as to what this app would mean to the future of the physical wallet. Would it mean the end of credit cards getting into the wrong hands when the wallet was lost or stolen? Why would anybody want a smart phone wallet? Here are some quick answers:

Using a mobile wallet is quicker than finding the card, sliding it through the machine and signing your name. In most instances, it’s as simple as tapping on a screen or in some instances, plugging in a connection to authorize the purchase.

Real Time Tracking
Balances are recorded as the purchase is made. Some apps allow you to set up spending limits and alerts that track your expenditures as you go. Instead of waiting for an end of the month statement, there is real time information broken down into categories to track where your spending is going.

Smarter Shopping
Some credit card apps are utilizing technology to help you learn information about the product you are buying. Apps can store reward cards, QR codes and coupons to use as you shop. Local information helps you know where you can find the best price.

As with all things software/internet based, there is concern about security. The thinking is  having credit card information stored in the cloud is safer than carrying it around in your wallet. However, even Google wallet’s new program has been hacked into twice in the first six months of its existence. Work is ongoing, however, to solve these issues.

Available Everywhere?
Right now Google wallet is only available on Sprint’s Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus phones for those who have Citi Bank Master Cards or use Google’s pre-paid debit card. It is also only available at those retailers that have MasterCard Pay Pass terminals using near-field-communication (N.F.C.) technology. Google is however, continuing its efforts to expand the Wallet’s reach. Sprint has also announced that the technology will be available on ten more phones due out this spring.

More Players?
However, Google is not, nor will it ever be the only player in town. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey’s Square technology is already processing $3 million in mobile payments by plugging into the headphone jack of iPads. A new product, Square Card Case is also being introduced to allow mobile phone users, including Google Droid devices, to pay for purchases at select retailers.

PayPal and MasterCard have their contributions to the mobile payment technology as does Venmo and ZipPay. Verizon is working with T-Mobile and AT&T on a payment service called Isis.

However, none of these payment systems are available everywhere, which puts a damper on the overall mobile wallet idea.

Enter Apple
In January 2011, Bloomberg reported the iPhone company was working on N.F.C. technology to incorporate into the iPhone and iPad. Although Apple has applied for patents, there is yet to be any announcement of mobile payment technology.

Some have speculated perfecting this technology may be the reason the iPhone5 has been delayed. Others have hinted that the sheer number of Apple iPhone and iPad users would soon outnumber Nexus S users, and allow Apple to overtake Google’s lead and be the key to a new mobile payment standard.

Regardless, it will be interesting to see how all the technology shakes out and how much longer it will take before we are all using a smart phone wallet.