Reading Time: 03:31 mins
Ditching the wallet…
Fur, gold coins, paper money and now credit cards. One thing has remained constant during the evolution of money and that is our need to carry it with us and use it during our daily life. This need for a wallet or similar product has actually influenced our evolution more than you think.
For centuries, daily trade was bound by what we could carry. We broke our currency into denominations and this allowed us to move more value within a smaller quantity. We then switched to a paper-based system. This allowed for lighter, easier-to-handle currency and that had greater transportation potential. The 20th century’s game changer came in the form of credit cards. These tiny devices allowed us to have almost unlimited daily trading potential that also came with benefits – obscurity and security. Yet the need for a wallet never disappeared.
It is in the next, upcoming shift that we may finally see a separation from our daily spending needs, and our use of a wallet. The following changes have contributed to the creation of the trading ecosystem responsible for this transformation.
- Establishment of payment platforms and digital wallets (PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Wallet)
- Secure payment processing systems on the web (BrainTree, Stripe)
- Wireless & Mobile Point-Of-Sale (POS) systems
- Highly available banking capabilities
- Adoption of platform economies
A quick glance at my wallet, and I find an emergency $20 note and plethora of numerous other cards. These are all strategically placed within my bulging wallet – the quick-draw debit card within easy reach to the safely-stowed and rarely removed health card. What is quickly evident is that at this stage, cards are still extremely necessary and, further to just storing credit, they serve another function that is often ignored: Proof of membership. It applies to everything from your driver’s license to your grocer’s loyalty card.
“There are 3 things certain in everyone’s life. Death, Taxes and..Subscriptions”
Picture the bulging wallet that you drag everywhere with you. The one that is so full most of the time, that you can’t even find the card you’re looking for.
And God forbid, the return of the fanny pack! Despite what The Rock would have you believe, it is no longer economical to carry around a vast inventory of cards… Credit cards, business cards, membership cards, coffee cards and so on. So how do we end this age of constant card juggling?
One Device To Rule Them All
Companies are continually embracing simplicity, but are consumers willing? “Just log in to our app and transfer the money”, “just tap your phone to pay for your coffee”. If we are to continue on this path toward physical minimalism, we need to keep innovating and adapting to enable the consumer. Sure, it may be years yet before we can truly ditch our wallets. However, it is evident that we must begin to rely less heavily on them to carry the bulk of our cards.
We share a special relationship with our mobile phones. For better or worse, the majority of us spend many hours a day using it. The wave of development that have allowed us to substitute our phone for other tasks, has already lightened the load a lot.
It is now possible to tap your phone to connect your Woolworth’s Everyday Rewards Card and collect your points. This has removed the need for a physical card for all those with a smart enough phone. So this means that a percentage of consumers now have a vacancy in their wallets, but not all. Further to this, advancement in ocular, watch and hologram technology means that we may be able to shift beyond even our phones but this is yet to be determined.
Not a shopping basket, but the apps on your phone that allow you to store a number of cards in one place and locate them with ease. This centralisation of accounts seems to be a way forward yet it does pose interesting questions about security risks.
The Australian Government has a current initiative to consolidate government functions from Tax to Healthcare and more, completely under ‘myGov’. This has created clarity for customers by creating a single source for all information. On the surface, this is a great step forward and is very user-friendly.
However, the initiative has been met with several challenges and disruptions as existing silo systems tried to find common ground. It seems that a federal system poses its own limitations as State’s manage their own departments and laws, and begin to issue their own forms of membership.
Consumers Strike Back
As both members of society and consumers, it is important that we demand & drive innovation that will create clarity in our life. My vision of a developed and enlightened society doesn’t include cards & wallets – does yours? We need to get back to making the small things in life, simple and easy. Technology, when developed well and kept secure and user-friendly, is the perfect way to achieve this.
A venture such as Amazon Go, as an example, has huge potential to meet this need. It uses a lot of incredible technology and is crucially silent, acting as a curtain, so to speak. Initiatives such as this allow us to engage with a daily task, while not once opening a physical wallet or device of any kind . This is the future.