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This is the age where we are constantly finding solutions to problems, and even if there isn’t really a problem in the first place we still try to find some sort of “solution”. When it comes to payment methods, throughout history we’ve gone from using teeth and specialty trading to plastic cards that have an undisclosed amount of money on them – hopefully enough to cover the cost of the purchase. But now, in addition to credit and debit cards, we also have the introduction of mobile wallets.

What exactly are mobile wallets? Well, mobile wallets are actually very broad and a complex system that include several different methods of payment from mobile-to-recipient. You have methods like SMS-based transactional payments, direct mobile billing, mobile web payments, and one of the newest ones that I will be focusing primarily on: contactless NFC. In theory, it sounds like a completely convenient method of paying whether you're physically in the store or shopping online. Essentially it does cut out one more thing we have to remember to carry with us, which is our wallets. But what are the downsides to using a mobile wallet?

The first thing that popped into my mind when I first heard the term "mobile wallet" was that if my phone gets stolen not only does all of my photos and music get stolen but so does access to all of my money. This is also a risk with mobile banking (which I do use to keep track of money on my phone) but instead of all of my accounts having different passwords to figure out through different apps, it’s all under one convenient location with only one password to crack. Not only that, but mobile wallets using NFC depend on wireless interaction while debit and credit cards require contact with the magnetic strip to register – which do people trust more?

However, in my mind security isn’t the biggest problem. While security is important, you can’t make any payment method 100% foolproof from theft; at least in this point in time. The biggest issue seems to come from availability to actually use the method for its intended purpose – or lack thereof.

I was first introduced to the concept of near field communication while working at Sprint. Google Wallet was just rolling out through the Nexus line of devices (which comes as no surprise) and we were learning about just how NFC worked with Google Wallet. The problem was, and the problem that I knew would come into play when trying to use it as a “push” for sales, was that we had no way of showing the customers in store just how it worked. Our machines did not support NFC. By not having the feature available in our own store it really didn’t seem to make any sense to try and explain that concept to a customer. I always had more success with sales when incorporating visual learning – there is a point in time where if you talk too much it goes in one ear and out the other. Without a visual concept, you’re most likely just confusing/and or boring the customer.

Since that introduction I have not been in one retail situation where I have seen somebody pay using their phone with NFC. It seems like the concept was introduced before it was needed – a product before its time, if you will. People still seem completely content with paying via credit/debit card, as it is a simple and easy process, just like NFC payments. Swipe or tap? It’s all the same to me. It’s not like writing a check vs. credit or debit, where you can save upwards of 3-5 minutes of time with each transaction. This would really only save a couple of seconds, if that.

Will mobile wallets ever be popular? I feel like in the future the idea will somehow be reworked or honed upon to be more convenient, or perhaps more secure. It's an interesting idea, I’ll give it that, but it seems to be trying to fix a payment method that isn’t broken. The negatives outweigh the positives in its current state. As a result, people are hesitant to switch.

Readers, what are your feelings on mobile wallets? Do you use one, and has it changed the way you make purchases? I'm interested in hearing your feedback on this, as I’m sure there are plenty of perspectives on it. Let me know your thoughts!

Images via Uncrate, Droid-Life


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33 Reactions to this post

"Do you use a mobile wallet?"


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Curtis Owens a bit too early. Too much connected. I prefer each company I have my data with to be completely separated. Google aggregates every piece of data they can get. And it is quite disturbing that they allow it to get so personal.
Tony Etolle Love it,very convenient!
Vicente Reyes Sometimes when I get offers from Google offers
David Kimberlin nada.....no desire ..... no fear of it just never set it up easier 2 get my card out of my wallet tbh
Josh Billingsley Some of the comments in this thread are ridiculous... "it'll be more popular when apple does it" so we have to wait for Apple to catch up? Not yet available "on" our country? Uh yeah. Every McDonald's in America has this optiim. And Bp gas station... And Google maps is wonderful at telling where your at.... It would be your crappy network provider powering your google maps that's failing you. Not google maps... Some people should turn their smartphone back in...
Andrew Johnson I would use it if my note 2 on Sprint allowed me to...
Ilija Jovanovic my xperia p is not supported by google wallet :(
James Norwood Theft Potential: 9.9
Brandon Holley Matt Shipley you're dumb. The wallet feature is only active when you're within an NFC receiver. You say you're opening up your things to hackers, that's the case if you use any online service ever with that thinking. Keep your irrational fears to yourself.
Ken Reil I would but Sprint disabled it on my Note 2.
Fernando Gonzalez I use it allll the time.
Matt Shipley That's a waste..why would someone want to open theirselves to hackers and such? Especially your bank account..stupid technology.
Curtis M. Cook When I'm not being denied by the non tech savvy cashiers... Yes.
J Alberto Garcia Flores I would use Google wallet, but stupid verizon won't let their costumers (me) use Google wallet, they want to force us to use their isis wallet.
Abram Wenevermet Dennis It'll be popular once apple does it.
Martin Smeaton I would if I could, no love for us Canadians though, eh?
Lanh Nguyen I use it everywhere I can but there's not many places that accept it. McDonald's and a lot of shoe stores take it.
Robert Wellington Clubine III People in Asia have been doing this for years now, Japan is pretty good with this service.
Dounutz Sesar Google wallet all the time
Lance Hill I have never been to a place that even offers this payment type
Marvin P. Bermudez I could use this but its not yet available on our Country, heck even Google Music Store is now available and our Google Maps sucks bigtime at telling where I Am.
Andrew Bissel A little bit. NFC should have been standard, not new when it was released. And more stores should've supported it. As well as the fact that NO AVERAGE PERSON IS INFORMED OF ITS EXISTENCE!!
Jonathan Makcharoenwoodhi I would love too, but T-mobile disabled google wallet for my Note 2
Dan Garcia I tried using Google wallet as much as I could, but EVERY damn time I tried to use it the places machines were always messed up.
Abram Wenevermet Dennis Nope..I use a real wallet. .
Jonathan Coffey No people need to get over their fears of new technology.
Joe Keener no i use a leather wallet
Stephen Victor Sure don't. I don't see places to use them.




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