The Imminent Demise of The Wallet As We Know It

When I first was exposed to the Keyring smart phone application by Mobestream, I though it was the greatest little app.  It allows a consumer to scan-in loyalty, membership cards with barcodes, organize and store them in a smart phone. Cardstar is a similar app.  Since then, similar apps such as AppCard and Stocard have come into the market.  These apps remove all the bulky cards from your wallet.  Some POS scanners can’t read the barcodes off the smart phone, but this contretemps will disappear as retailers upgrade their scanners.

As technology evolves, we are more likely to accidentally leave home without our wallet than we are to leave without our smart phone.  Remember “The American Express Card: Don’t leave home without it?”  Well, in 3-5 years you may not be able to “leave home without it.”

As a result of PayPal expanding its offering from Home Depot to 15 additional national retailers, an article appeared in Forbes entitled “Could your smart phone replace your wallet?”  For the answer, read to the end of this article.

To get acquainted with the landscape of the electronic wallet, one can read the Computerworld article regarding Apple stores and the disappearance of the cash register.

We have apps like Citibank’s ePay, Dwolla, Google Wallet, LevelUp, Tabbedout,

TangoCard, Visa’s payWave, and others.  Add all these mobile payment systems and apps together, and you were 2/3 of the way towards eliminating the need for a wallet.  Digitizing drivers’ licenses was the last hurdle (many licenses have holograms embedded in them in order to prevent counterfeit).  Employee access cards are storable in a smart phone, barcode all health insurance cards and presto; no more wallets!  Well, a driver’s license can now be digitized too, securely!

MorphoTrust makes most of the nation’s driver’s licenses and is now piloting the first digital driver’s license app in the nation.

A publication recently stated: Legal digital identification is considered to be one of the final frontiers of the virtual world and with millions of people already using smartphones to shop, buy coffee, go to concerts or even board a plane, it makes sense to look at the logistics of putting a recognizable legal identity on a device.  About 100 employees at the Iowa Department of Transportation are part of a 90-day pilot to test a mobile app, which MorphoTrust calls an mDL (mobile driver’s license) that may someday replace the plastic card that has served as standard American identification for decades.

A digital driver’s license can be updated instantly. Changing an address or updating the card’s layout when the citizen ages from 20 to 21 can be all accomplished online.

It will be easier to ensure the authenticity of a digital ID, said Jenny Openshaw, vice president at MorphoTrust.  Today, authentication of driver’s licenses is accomplished visually — someone looks at the card and judges whether it’s real or fake. A store-side app that validates the authenticity of a patron’s card won’t eliminate fraud, but it makes it far more difficult.

In addition to PIN and fingerprint-based security features already built into phones used in the pilot, the mDL app can be secured using MorphoTrust facial recognition unlock technologies which requires the user to take a selfie and use a custom PIN.

In a related Cnet article, we learned that a number of states are exploring the concept.

There is a security and privacy issue, like: what you do with your smartphone if the police stop you?  Hand it over?  But the issues will be resolved and then, say goodbye to the wallet!