Google Wallet securely stores your credit cards and offers on your phone. When you check out at brick-and-mortar stores that accept Google Wallet, you can pay and redeem offers quickly just by tapping your phone at the point of sale.
Picture the scene 5 years from now. You walk into a supermarket, feed your shopping list into a terminal and the location of each item is pinpointed for you on your mobile phone. Once you have collected all your items, you head for the check-out and swipe your phone at the scanner. All relevant shop discounts are applied. It even takes into account the e-voucher you downloaded yesterday lunchtime.
The press are reporting that 2012 is the year of the mobile wallet with your smart phone becoming your credit card, your cheque book and your interactive shopping bot. It is predicted that a radical shift in our shopping habits is right around the corner. Could this be the much-touted cashless economy that we have been waiting for ever since the days of Mondex?
Is this too far fetched? Perhaps not when you consider that more than a few things have migrated to the mobile phone in recent years. Your camera, alarm clock, compass, landline, GPS and radio have already made the transition. Why not your cash and credit cards?
Looking at the statistics: more and more people are already using their mobiles to make purchases online—Christmas 2011 was a record for online sales and this trend looks set to continue.
Google have recently launched Google Wallet in partnership with CitiBank and MasterCard. It is a mobile app which securely stores your credit cards and offers on your phone. When you check out at brick-and-mortar stores that accept Google Wallet, you can pay and redeem offers quickly just by tapping your phone at the point of sale via a simple combination of your phone number and a PIN number.
Who else wants to play?
Visa are rumoured to be launching a similar service called V.Me. It is as yet unclear whether the two services will be compatible. There is also wide speculation online that Apple will be showcasing a wallet this year; you can already process payments through iPhones in their stores.
Mobile wallets rely on NFC technology, or Near Field Communication. In America, the Subway fast food chain has installed NFC in 7,500 of its stores. 215 Macys and Bloomingdales stores already have it in use. Coke vending machines and even the New Jersey subway are gearing up to take payments from your mobile phones.
Big brands are already on board
In London, Pizza Express have developed an app which allows customers to type the number on their bill into their phone so they can pay by PayPal. No more waiting for the waiter to settle your tab—perfect during the lunch time rush hour.
Starbucks have an app which allows you to tap your phone to pay for your cappucino. They recently hit six-million payments in a six-week period. Not bad at all for a new technology.
It is reported that 32 million Americans are now using mobile banking to manage their affairs from their smart phones. The UK is rapidly catching up with great apps from Natwest and Lloyds TSB amongst others.
With the issue of trust and security seemingly overcome, the vice president of payments at Google says "Consumers expect to use one-click to buy just about anything. There are no checkout queues online".
Our opinion is that this is going to happen, and quickly at that. Cash is going to go the way of the telegram. It won't be long before the next generation aren't even sure how to use it.