Good-bye Plastic, Hello Phone: Mobile Wallets On The Rise

Forget about what's in your wallet. The real question is: will you even need a wallet?

The latest trend in credit card payment technology is the use of mobile wallets. This innovation eliminates the plastic and turns your phone into a digital payment portal. From MasterCard to PayPal, major payment processors are jumping on the bandwagon and offering their own mobile wallet apps.

Is this really the wave of the future? According to some indications, we may be heading toward not only a cashless society but a plastic-less one as well.

The rise of contactless payments

Remember the old days? When you had to swipe your credit card and then wait and wait for that little slip of paper to print so you could sign for your purchase?

Ok, so that is still the reality for many credit and debit transactions. However, credit card companies and retailers seem to be banking on consumers finding the swiping and signing process far too time-consuming and tedious. Instead, they see the future in contactless payments.

Contactless payments can trace their history back to 1997 when Mobil gas stations introduced the Speedpass. Using RFID ( radio frequency identification) technology, the passes allowed customers to wave a key card in front of the pump to pay before filling up and heading on their way.

Then in 2004, MasterCard introduced PayPass which used the same technology. American Express jumped in with ExpressPay in 2005, and Visa followed suit in 2007 with its payWave option.

While RFID contactless options are still available, the advent of smart phones has led to the development of new mobile wallets that leave the card completely behind.

Payments go mobile

As an emerging trend, mobile wallets can be hard to pigeon-hole. However, the term is generally used to refer to the phenomenon of using mobile apps to load credit, debit and loyalty cards on your phone.