What if instead of having cards in your wallet, you used their smartphone to pay for meals, use public transport and earn loyalty points at your favorite store? It’s an option that has become a very real possibility thanks to the growing number of apps. But there are still some pitfalls to solve: not all smartphones are compatible with these applications and depending on the lifespan of a mobile phone, it may not be the best option.
The number of people who use their smartphone as a mobile wallet is on the rise. According to database company Statista, usage of apps like Apply Pay and Google Pay in North America is expected to double between 2020 and 2025, with the Asian market expected to become even more important. The use of mobile wallets soared during the coronavirus pandemic as people avoided cash payments due to transmission concerns, and travel restrictions made it difficult to access ATMs.
A smartphone must be NFC-enabled to act as a digital wallet. Several apps, such as Google Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, are compatible with a wide range of banks. To make a payment, simply place the back of your mobile phone on the payment terminal and authorize the transition. If your phone isn’t compatible with these apps, or you have privacy concerns, you can also use your bank’s app to make a payment. Some companies also accept payments through platforms like Venmo or Cashapp, which means you don’t need an NFC-enabled cell phone.
To protect against cybercrime, digital security company ESET recommends that you select biometric methods to unlock and lock your phone, and enable notifications each time a transaction or payment is made. “That way, if there’s any suspicious activity, you’ll get notified, almost immediately,” the company explains, adding that some apps also allow for additional security steps, such as two-factor authentication.
To prevent these applications from collecting more information than necessary, users are advised to check the permissions they need.
Some countries allow you to have your driver’s license on your phone. In the United States, more than 20 states have considered, tested or already released digital versions of driver’s licenses, with other states indicating they may soon join, according to The Washington Post. Drivers, however, are still advised to carry their car’s physical documents, in case something happens to their phone or they drive through a state that doesn’t recognize the digital license.
These systems may vary, but the first steps are generally similar, i.e. download the appropriate app and scan your license, then verify your identity with a photo. States that offer mobile driver’s licenses — also known as mDLs — argue that digital IDs are useful, but not a replacement for physical documents.
Health cards and vaccination certificates
The US Health System offers SMART Health Cards, which are “paper or digital versions of your clinical information, such as immunization history or test results.” They are in the form of QR codes which, once scanned, reveal the wearer’s medical information. This card may also contain information about a person’s Covid-19 vaccination status.
Concert and train tickets
Apps such as Passwallet, for Android users, and Apple Wallet, for iPhone users, allow you to store and organize a large number of documents, including credit cards, concert tickets, train cards and even hotel keys. Some BMW owners, for example, can open and start their car with Apple Wallet.
These applications work in a very simple way. There are many ways to add a card to the digital wallet. In most cases, you will receive a notification by email or SMS. You will then need to click on the link or file and open it in the application. With Passwallet, you can add a card simply by scanning its barcode or QR code, while Apple Wallet allows users to manually upload a card’s details.
When it comes to organizing loyalty cards, one of the most popular apps is Stocard. Users can add maps of multiple stores, supermarkets, gas stations, clothing stores and more. To add a card, simply scan it or enter the details manually. Then, to accumulate loyalty points, all you have to do is show the barcode on your mobile phone. Users can also access special coupons and offers that are only available on the app.
Are there any documents you can’t carry on your phone?
It is still too early to completely get rid of wallets. Many countries have not reached this level of digitization, while others do not allow important documents, such as IDs, to be uploaded to an app. That should change sooner rather than later. But whether people decide to give up their wallets will still largely depend on the infrastructure available in their city.