Digital Wallet: The Future of Pay, and Why You Should Care

Business.com / Finances / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

We'll soon be forgetting that Benjamin Franklin is on the U.S. hundred dollar bill. Get up to speed with the future: the digital wallet.

Dropping coins on a counter or handing over dirty, germ infested paper money may be looked at by future generations as we do towards those who used to trade goats for wheat. Digital wallets are slowly becoming the new mode of tap-and-go consumerism, making fiscal transactions seamless, transparent, safe and incredibly convenient.

It is the future of pay currently in flux and you might want to re-evaluate any technophobias you may have. It is an industry that offers you the opportunity to embrace cryptocurrency, mobile pay and many more digital money opportunities that just may make your life less cumbersome and more streamlined in our ever-changing cyber race.

Related Article: Guide to Accepting Apple Pay at Your Business

Integration

Digital wallet technology is popping up more and more. Below are a handful of descriptions regarding why leaving your cash as well as your debit and credit cards at home could be your best choice yet.

  • Big Corp: There’s Apple Pay, Google bank, PayPal and Amazon Pay which are all on board with digital wallet technology. If you are loyal to any of these companies in any way it is in your best interest to stay on top of their digital wallet advancements.
  • Square: For small businesses, Square is a smartphone appendage that plugs in to the headphone jack allowing merchants that do not have a digital setup to accept all types of card payment on their device.
  • Bitcoin and friends: Bitcoin is the grandfather of cryptocurrency, a fluctuating Wild West of digital wallet money. Using this technology allows people to surpass government regulated banks. Perfect for libertarians and off-the-grid wannabes wary of the continued broad clench of Big Brother’s hand.
  • NFC: This is Near Field Communication which, with a free downloaded app, allows the user to ‘tap-n-go’ their payment directly from their phone.
  • The Coin Card: This is a one card fits all, capable of storing credit, debit and even loyalty card info all in one place.

Safety

Simply pressing your fingerprint button on your iPhone is all it takes to purchase items with Apple Pay. The safety of this mobile wallet usage is pretty sound given that no one else has your fingerprint sans removing your actual finger which may be the only risk; not too probable, though.

However, NFC (mentioned above) has spawned digital thieves with devices that can snatch your info by simply walking by you and tapping into the radio frequency used by your phone. To thwart this, stay alert while using your device to pay. Closing all open apps and either shutting or putting your phone on ‘airplane mode’ may also deter this cyber threat.

Bitcoins and similar applications are still sorting out their safety issues. Because there are no government regulated banks involved in this cryptocurrency industry, the risks could be high. Yet, they do carry intricately coded algorithms which do make stealing them very difficult, but not impossible.

Related Article: Should Your Business Accept Bitcoin?

In addition, cryptocurrency carries volatile worth meaning that unlike a one dollar bill with minimal value fluctuation, cryptocurrency can rise and fall exponentially.

These and other varying issues make businesses, large and small, still wary about using cryptocurrency yet mobile pay has been and continues to be very successful.

Current Users

Depending on the demographic, it may not seem that many people are using digital wallet technology. However, it’s difficult to know given the stealth ability of tools like mobile wallets that simply tap and go or get it all done before a purchase is even picked up.

In a study by Thrive Analytics, demographics were the key factor in the ‘new consumer’ approach.

It was found that,

“Looking further into digital wallet usage, demographics matter. Key findings from the survey indicate consumers are carrying less cash today, especially on-the-go females, with 50 percent of all consumers carrying less than $20 on a regular basis. Of the survey respondents who carry no cash at all, three out of four are under the age of 40. Also, nearly 60 percent of all digital wallet users are male despite carrying more cash than females. Females (18-29) tend to use merchant digital wallet apps such as Target, Macy's and Home Depot more often than males to look for discounts/coupons (72 percent) and price shop (56 percent). When males use merchant apps, they tend to browse and engage in service related activities like paying bills and looking up retailers' product and contact information.”

The study went on to cite that most digital wallet usage was done through mobile phones (about 60%) for purchases under $10. This entails basic everyday products such as groceries, coffee and drinks, retail items and games and books.

As this mode of consumerism continues, the mainstream will eventually get used to the application and branch out to more advanced purchases.

Staying Ahead of the Curve

There was a time when everyone was getting a cell phone and certain people (maybe you) turned their noses up at such rapidly moving technology. Now, many of those people are just trying to keep up. Being a technophobe when the pendulum is swinging so far into the digital stratosphere could certainly take its toll.

When it comes to digital wallets, being surpassed by so many important monetary transactions and decisions could hamper way more than the ability to text, email or simply talk on a device. 

As this technology continues to expand it just may become as useful as so many other inventions that were at first frowned upon and now cannot be lived without. The opportunities seem limitless as digital wallet applications could expand beyond simple over-the-counter consumerism and into transactions such as:

  • Real estate closings
  • Mortgage, utility and educational payments
  • Fundraising and donations
  • Transferring funds
  • Medical payments
  • Portfolio shifts
  • High end purchases (i.e. cars, jewelry, boats, etc.)

Whether you like it or not digital wallets are the current technology of future pay. Keep an eye out for how these applications that may apply to you and hop on the mobile, crypto and/or digital pay bus.

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