Digital Wallets: The Big New Trend or the Big New Hype?

Written by Todd Hansen | August 8, 2013

Digital wallets may be the future

I love my wallet. I freak out when I think it’s lost. I wish I could find it with my phone when my kid decides to hide it under the bathroom sink. It’s analog and its contents tangible.  It holds key parts of me that make living possible. I also love my phone. It connects me, keeps me on time and reminds me of things I forget. I don’t get lost as much anymore and haven’t memorized a phone number in years. But I wonder do I need a hybrid of the two? I don’t have an answer -- but as a consumer, an early adopter and a champion of the new, I feel the question is worth asking.

The last few years we’ve seen a big uptick in mobile payment focused sessions in the SXSW PanelPicker. It’s great. It’s a worthy conversation. Data from the Federal Reserve shows 12% of American’s pay with a mobile wallet. That number will grow. Forbes reports that Asia and Africa have a combined 143M mobile accounts and a greater dependence on mobile payments in lieu of an underdeveloped banking system. Two comparably different markets with divergent needs.

I know I’m just scratching the surface here but I wonder if we are cracking a nut or building one to be cracked? When does the paradigm shift happen? In the end it is innovation, happening. But in the now will firing up an app replace the efficiency of swiping plastic and flipping out my ID to buy beer? For me, no. When I use an app to buy coffee I have to remember to use it instead of it reminding me it was just used. Maybe I’m just expecting more from my pay-tech than I should.

Photo by Photos.com.