When mobile phones became widespread in the 1990’s, most people never imagined how this technology would transform over the next 20 years. With limited coverage and expensive monthly plans, mobile phones of the 90’s were nothing more than a tool to call home in an emergency.
The evolution of the cellphone gave birth to the smartphone, and there is no denying that this phone/personal organizer/computer completely changed the game. You can download apps and pay your credit card companies directly from your smartphone, or download your bank’s app and manage your finances from any location. But it doesn’t stop here. Now, you can use your smartphone as a digital wallet.
A digital wallet, or simply e-wallet, allows you to make purchases safely and securely with your mobile phone. Anyone with a smartphone can take advantage of this feature, providing they download the necessary app. The concept is similar to paying for merchandise with a credit card. But instead of swiping your debit or credit card at a credit card terminal, you wave or tap your cellphone against a terminal at checkout. The credit card terminal then reads the credit card or debit card information stored in your phone.
Imagine never pulling out your credit or debit card again. As long as you keep your smartphone within close range, you can pay for anything, anywhere. But while this new wave of technology is catching on fast, with many retailers adopting this payment method, are you ready for the digital wallet?
The digital wallet will probably never completely replace traditional payment methods at the register, but as more and more retailers offer this option, it’s likely to be utilized by the masses. There are definitely pros to the digital wallet. With your payment methods stored in your smartphone, there’s no need to tote credit cards in your wallet. Plus, e-wallets help speed checkout and reduce long lines. But understandably, the idea of paying at the register with a smartphone is a tough pill for many to swallow. What are the risks? Are there security measures to keep personal information safe? What if I lose my smartphone?
Using a mobile phone at checkout is a relatively new concept, and it’s reasonable to expect a few adjustments and glitches along the way. Yet, companies that support mobile network payments have taken measures to protect your information. Personal data and passwords within your smartphone will be encrypted, thus preventing a hacker from intercepting your transaction and obtaining your credit card or bank account information. And if you lose your smartphone, you receive the same protection as if you had swiped your credit card. You’re not liable for fraudulent charges and your credit card issuer or bank will credit funds back to your account.
Perhaps you’re not ready to give up your physical wallet or cash, or maybe you feel that a digital wallet is too much, too soon. Despite any skepticism, the digital wallet has and will continue to transform how we spend. And as retailers push for and adopt this technology, cash and plastic at the register may become as scarce as writing a check at the register.