Thursday, 19 March 2015

How big is your wallet?

I was asked to write a blog piece for work which was originally published here: http://mtibytes.com/post/How-big-is-your-wallet

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The average wallet is designed to carry objects of a 3 3⁄8” × 2 1⁄8” form factor, or the size of a standard credit card. I found I was carrying a bit more than that; on some days I might leave the house with a couple of credit cards, a debit card, supermarket loyalty cards, my driving license, Oystercard, and of course, a stack of business cards, requiring an ever-expanding wallet. As I struggled to fit my jumbo wallet and 5” smartphone into my trouser pocket, I decided something needed to be done.

Let me tell you, a few years ago downsizing a wallet would not be for the faint hearted. However, with the rise of mobile payment technologies, getting rid of your wallet for good may not be a fantasy for much longer.

With a few tips (and security considerations, of course) you’ll be well on your way to kicking your plastic to the curb:

Internet payments
I was an early adopter of PayPal, which many were hesitant to join in its early days for fear of leaving their payment details with a third party. Security concerns aside, PayPal is a highly attractive service, making online transactions (namely over eBay) simpler and more convenient. If you’re concerned about the security of internet payments, a simple preventative measure is to use separate banking details for PayPal and other online purchases. This will allow you to monitor online spending apart from your other purchases and, at the same time, keep a watchful eye on fraudulent spending and credit card cloning.

Contactless 
Similarly, I was among the first to purchase the Google Nexus 4 with Near Field Communication (NFC), which I saw as the future of payments (are we sensing a pattern here?). With both mobile and credit card companies adopting the technology, contactless payment seemed like the way forward. Still, I had my reservations about using my phone to buy everything – from petrol to a pint - so I didn’t use the NFC function initially.
That being said, it seems there are more service providers offering NFC for small purchases every month. TFL now accepts contactless credit cards, meaning one less card for me to fumble for on my commute. My mobile phone provider now has a wallet system that is compatible with NFC, as well as offering NFC chips that can be stuck to your phone, offering the contactless payment functionality for any device.

Apps for all 
As an Android enthusiast, I have created a Google Wallet account to use on Google Play. If you can’t bare the thought of parting with your iPhone, don’t despair; Apple Pay is available on all new devices and uses your fingerprint for authentication.
Although both applications are protected by a PIN, keep in mind that these technologies are still in their early stages and possibly more susceptible to fraud as a result. If you’re still hesitant on taking the plunge, I would recommend simply waiting until functionality becomes more conventional.

Say it with me: bin the wallet! 
Mobile is rapidly becoming the hub of our lives, acting as our main communication lifeline, connection to the web, control for our home environment, link for our wearables, and now, primary payment method. As Google and Apple payments join the mainstream, I predict we will do away with our wallets completely and rely solely on our mobile phones.
Although the news is full of high profile security breaches, we needn’t look further than our own pockets for an example of a security risk. These leaps in technology and functionality are impressive, but should only make us more vigilant when it comes to mobile security. So the question remains: how big is your wallet?

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