Many months ago I wrote an article about the future of Google Wallet and it seems many other companies are jumping into the fray of digital wallet management. Some banks and credit card companies on their own are developing their own digital wallets, which is pushing all of these into a digital arms race. What does this mean for the possible future of digital wallets, and is this the end of plastic?
The easiest answer I have for you is that this is not the end of plastic cards, at least not for a while. The amount of Smart phone users, though high, isn’t high enough to warrant cutting that aspect of credit. In the same way we still have physical discs for movies, even though many companies offer on demand services, there is still enough people without broadband internet access to keep making physical products. Will we eventually live in a world without physical cards or discs? Maybe, but internet speeds will need to surpass the amount of information and their general population reach while cards won’t be replaced until EVERYONE has a smart phone, or something similar.
As for the future of digital wallets themselves, there seems to be quite a few companies diving into the battle for supremacy. Competition is always good, but one major worry is security when it comes to the amount of digital
wallets and their anti-identity theft software is. They obviously won’t all be equal, and I may trust Google more than I trust even VISA’s own app. The other issue is would companies like VISA or Master card refuse to allow their cards to be put on other wallet apps? That kind of action would kill, in my opinion, the digital wallet all together.
The initial idea behind Google Wallet and other Digital Wallets was to have all your cards in one app, easily accessible with one pin code to log in and one for each card. No need to have your cards easily stolen in your wallet. Everything secure and in one location. But the hassle of having to go to separate apps to use any digital wallet could dissuade consumers from using it. The other side that is both effecting digital wallets releases and success is iPhone 5 doesn’t have NFC. NFC is the hardware needed to use digital wallets and other close proximity information sharing apps. Whether this will push people to sell their iPhone for the latest Samsung devices with NFC is unknown, but probably unlikely. Digital wallet is a cool feature, but is still in it’s infancy and not mainstream enough to warrant any switching.
Hopefully, within a year, we’ll start seeing a few choice digital wallet apps that are both secure and able to hold all, or most, of your credit cards. I am crossing my fingers for Google Wallet, as I am a big fan of Google in general, but I would love to see even Banks have their own digital wallet attached to their already existing banking applications.