Mobile phone technology has grown so rapidly in the past 2 decades. I remember watching Saved by the Bell when Zach Morris had a “mobile phone”. It was a huge brick with an even longer antenna. Now the Saturday Night Live Will Ferrell skits featuring the matchbook sized cell phone aren’t too far off. We’ve evolved from playing snake on our brick phones to playing Angry Birds, updating our Facebook statuses and watching YouTube videos on our smart phones before breakfast.
So back to the question at hand, will my cell phone replace my wallet? Probably. Although I’ve never used it, there’s an app on my iPhone that you can swipe and charge someone’s credit card, great for a small business owner. It even organizes your customers “cards” by brand, their name, stores receipts and keeps accounting records. Starbucks now has a mobile payment app too. Your phone displays a barcode that you place under their scanner, the barcode is linked to your Starbucks card, and the transaction is processed. Starbucks said it saw 3 million mobile transactions in the first 9 weeks after launch of the app. Europe began testing the iPhone “iWallet” last January. The iWallet allows consumers to pay for things the same way you buy a song on iTunes. It is setup and linked to your card of choice.
These companies may be onto something. Strike while the irons hot. This market is small now, not very saturated, and deemed sort of a niche. If someone like Apple grabbed this projected $600 billion market, you can believe the adoption rate would increase faster than the iPhone saturation. I’m not saying start throwing away your Gucci purses and Kenneth Cole wallets, but maybe start being aware of apps available for your phone and start noticing those funny box barcodes you see in retailers. Soon, in the not so distant future, someone will be writing a blog about how they remember us and our inefficient cell phone payment apps while they’re scanning barcodes on their wrists to buy a cup of coffee.