How Technology Is Helping To Save The Crocodile & The Carpincho

A recent experience with a 2-year-old application for smart phones caused me to ponder the payment landscape and the future need to carry a wallet.  The application I found is called KeyRing, and I thought it was the greatest simple app.  Read on…

What do both of these animals have in common?  They are both bred or hunted for their skin to make purses, pocketbooks and wallets.  Well, technology is on its way to save their lives.

When I first was exposed to the Keyring smart phone application by a company called Mobestream, I though it was the greatest and simplest little app.  It basically allows a consumer to scan all loyalty, club, and membership cards with barcodes, organize them and store the barcodes in your smart phone.  It also alerts the consumer that the merchant has coupon offers available, and how many. Considering that wallet bulk is one of the reasons that many consumers don’t want to enroll in some loyalty/membership programs, this little app clearly removes that barrier along with all the cards from your wallet and tags from your key ring. A competing product to KeyRing is Cardstar.

Now, couple that capability with all of the mobile payment systems coming into the market place, add near field communications (it’s coming to a store near you), and you are 2/3 of the way towards eliminating the need for a wallet.  We now need to find a way to digitize drivers’ licenses (many have holograms embedded in them), re-invent employee cards to be storable in a smart phone, barcode all health insurance cards and presto; we have saved more crocodiles and carpinchos (no more wallets)!  The concept has at least one other problem remaining; some POS scanners can’t read the barcode off the smart phone (my Petsmart store can’t and don’t ask me why, it’s crisp as HD) but I suspect that this little contretemps will disappear over time.

As today’s society in developed countries is evolving, we are probably more likely to accidentally leave home without our wallet than we are to leave home without our smart phone.  Remember the old advertisement “The American Express Card: Don’t leave home without it?”  Well, in three years you may not be able to leave home without it.

To get more acquainted with the whole landscape of the electronic wallet, one can read the Computerworld article recently published on Apple and the disappearance of the cash register.

Then you have Citibank’s ePay, whereby you can use your Internet access capability from your smart phone to pay bills.

Bluetooth 4.0 will enable devices to connect at longer distances with lower energy requirements (so they tell me).

There is Dwolla, which enables a person to send money to friends or businesses from one’s smart phone.

The Google Wallet mobile app 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.

Check out iWallet “…the credit card companies will be sending statements directly to your iTunes account.”   The iWallet patent, which first appeared in May 2010, will allow users to purchase items, set spending limits, receive credit card statements, and much more all through iTunes.

Cambridge-based mobile app developer SCVNGR launched a new app called LevelUp.  It’s available for iPhone and Android, and it displays retail discounts available all around your current location. Once you enter a credit card number, you can start buying.  The interesting twist is that after you buy one deal, you’re presented with an even better deal from that same merchant — hence, “leveling up.”

Isis Mobile Wallet from AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless organizes your payment cards, offers and loyalty cards in one convenient app on your Isis Ready™ phone using NFC technology.

Just this week, PayPal expanded its offering from Home Depot to 15 new national retailers that include Abercrombie & Fitch, Advance Auto Parts, Aéropostale, American Eagle Outfitters, Barnes & Noble, Foot Locker, Guitar Center, Jamba Juice, JC Penney, Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, Nine West, Office Depot, Rooms to Go, Tiger Direct and Toys “R” Us.  As a result, an article appeared in Forbes entitled “Could your smart phone replace your wallet?”  For the answer, read to the end of this article.

Tabbedout allows patrons to open, view and pay their tab with a smart phone at restaurants and bars.  Credit card information is stored securely, encrypted, on your own phone: “no more handing over a credit card to a server or bartender or leaving a credit card at the bar after a night on the town.”

With TangoCard, recipients can select a gift card from premier retailers, donate to a non-profit, even redeem for cash.  One can check gift card balances in one place, use gift cards from a mobile device, in-store or online.

Visa recently announced a new over-the-air provisioning service for smart phones for use with Visa’s payWave mobile payment systems, allowing consumers to pay for goods, services, and even mass transit via a phone equipped with NFC technology.

The smart phone will have replaced the wallet within three years.

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