They’re cool, they’re convenient, and if you don’t have one on your smartphone yet, you need to get one immediately. No, we’re not talking about a bedazzled case – we’re talking about mobile wallet apps.
These handy little programs offer a new, secure way to pay for your purchases by letting you use your phone instead of a credit card. In fact, with the momentum they’ve been gaining over the last few months, it’s only a matter of time before they replace credit cards altogether.
If you’re still clinging to the pieces of plastic in your pocket, here are a few reasons why it’s time to drop them and get with the 21st century:
1) Mobile wallets are safer. Rather than using magnetic strips to transmit data, mobile wallets utilize a technology known as near field communications (NFC). Smartphones that are fitted with NFC chips can transmit encoded data via radio waves, but the signals can be detected only by nearby devices – like a checkout terminal. Basically, it’s an extremely short-range radio transmitter, and unlike magnetic-strip transactions, NFC transactions can’t be hacked or copied. Additionally, mobile wallets also require you to enter a PIN number to verify every transaction. Even if your phone is stolen, the thief won’t be able to buy anything with it.
2) Mobile wallets will be endorsed by MasterCard and Visa. MasterCard and Visa didn’t get their horses into the race fast enough to be a legitimate contender in the American mobile payment market, but that doesn’t make them sore losers. Visa’s payWave app is already endorsed by Google in Europe, and both of the card networks stand to make billions by giving their official seal of approval to the leading American mobile wallets. Once they do, the official migration from magnetic to mobile will begin.
3) Mobile wallets are much more convenient than normal wallets. NFC-enabled payment apps make processing transactions easier on both consumers and merchants. In cities where this technology is popular, you don’t even need to carry your wallet around with you anymore. Can you imagine a world where you don’t need to worry about pickpockets or losing your credit card at the bar or at an ATM? We can, and it sounds lovely.
4) Mobile wallets help you plan financially. Since mobile wallets are hosted on smart phones, they’re much more than a transaction processor. They’re an entire financial planning system. You can view how much you spend on a day-to-day basis, create a budget for the month and schedule payments for your bills. They can even display real-time coupons for the store you’re currently standing in.
We’ve expressed our reservations about mobile wallets in the past, but it’s become clear that they truly are the future of personal transactions. Those new programmable credit cards are cool and all, but think of it this way: machine guns, when they hit the scene, were just bigger, badder guns. With a mobile wallet, you’re like Captain Picard down on a planet’s surface with your away team – you’re thumbing your communicator and commanding a photon torpedo assault from the Enterprise in orbit, high above. Engage!