In London, travelers can buy train tickets with their phones — and hold up the phones for the conductor to see. And in Starbucks coffee shops here in the United States, customers can wave their phones in front of the cash register and without even an abracadabra, pay for their soy chai lattes.
Money is not what it used to be, thanks to the Internet. And the pocketbook may soon be destined for the dustbin of history — or at least if some technology companies get their way.
The cellphone increasingly contains the essentials of what we need to make transactions. “Identification, payment and personal items,” as Hal Varian, the chief economist at Google, pointed out in a new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. “All this will easily fit in your mobile device and will inevitably do so.”
The phone holds and records plenty more vital information: It keeps track of where you are, what you like and who your peers are. That data can all be leveraged to sell you things you never knew you needed.
The survey, released earlier this month by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project along with Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center, asked just over 1,000 technologists and social scientists to opine on the future of the wallet in 2020. Nearly two-thirds agreed that “cash and credit cards will have mostly disappeared” and been replaced with “smart” devices able to carry out a transaction. But a third of the survey respondents countered that consumers would fear for the security of financial transactions over a mobile device and worry about surrendering so much data about their purchasing habits. Read More