Do you remember those old adverts from the eighties when a well known credit card company tried to persuade you to loose the ‘fat wallet’ in favour of a ‘flexible friend’? With the rising popularity and increased functionality of Smartphones will our wallets soon be disappearing altogether?
I read an article recently about 5 iPhone Accessories We’re Still Waiting For (mobilecrunch.com). One of the accessories they wanted was a credit card payment case or dongle. This would effectively allow your iPhone to be used as a credit card. Although the item does not exist currently you can already effectively pay for items via your iPhone using ‘in-App’ micro payments. In addition Paypal launched a free App on the Android platform this year to allow you to pay recipients listed in your contacts and view your balance information. Also Nokia announced that Nokia Money is to be rolled out in 2010. Touted as a new mobile financial service enabling financial management and payments from a mobile phone, (Nokia.com), they say it will allow financial services to be delivered to hundreds of millions of people. So, although you may still need cash for the smaller items you buy, how long before the Smartphone replaces the need for credit and debit cards?
With all of these electronic payments paper receipts could soon become a distant memory. Negating the need to stash scraps of poorly printed paper into your wallet or bag, only to be cleared out the following month when you remember to process the expense and find you can’t even read what the item was.
What about fraud though? How secure is your mobile phone and mobile transactions? Certainly in retail outlets it could become the most secure way to buy. It is only a matter of time before facial recognition is commonly used. Software to correlate the facial features of a mobile phone owner with their device will soon follow. Then you can be sure the person holding the device is the rightful owner. As phones get replaced for the latest and best model the information can be transferred from one device to another along with the number. With fingerprint technology ensuring you have permission to utilise the phones for transfer.
The smartphone on board cameras will also come into their own more. When you want to know that the person you are speaking to really is who they say they are. Facial recognition Apps will confirm no fraud is being committed. Identity cards will become unnecessary.
Electronic business cards in the form of contacts blue toothed between phones replace the need to hand out your pre-printed cards and combined with the facial recognition will ensure you successfully remember all your business and social networking contacts without the need to secretly scribble reminder notes.
So will this be taken one step further to replace the current driving licences? The DVLA already allow for licences and tax discs to be applied for online, and they electronically record all car tax records. It would make sense for paper driving licences to disappear replaced by your electronic id card that records your current vehicle details, address and licence endorsements.
In phone contacts and calendars have already largely replaced the paper address books and diaries of old. The notes pages, timezone comparisons, and underground maps being replaced by mobile applications. Family pictures are far more preserved within the phone’s gallery than they ever were printed out and cushioned between the store cards and money.
Worried about “The Filofax risk” The eighties dread of carrying your whole life within one device and not being able to cope when it is lost or stolen is now resolved. Mobile phone contents can be readily backed up onto a desktop or laptop as part of the charging cycle. Over time their contents may be stored in the cloud, providing users are confident of its security.
The phone could even perform actions that your wallet or its contents could never do. Communicate with your car, to inform it of your personal preferences for your seat position, radio tuning, etc. Turn on the lights in your home or office. Switch on your preferred entertainment medium when you enter the house. The list of current and future possibilities is mind blowing compared to the capabilities we all enjoyed when those adverts were released.
So what is left? What else do you carry around in your bag, purse or wallet that won’t, one day soon, be replaceable by a smartphone?