The New Wave of Wallets

The New Wave of Wallets

My iPhone is my life.

In the future, losing your phone may be even more of a headache than it is now. As mobile technology continues to rapidly evolve, smartphones are gaining more and more functionalities that really make them the Swiss-Army knife of devices. With a tap of a button you make a phone call, view your calendar, play your music, take a picture, fire off an email, or launch thousands of apps that have thousands of features. I know for me, some days it feels like my iPhone IS my life.

And it’s about to get better.

Various tech and mobile sites, such as Mashable are lavished with rumours that many device developers will be adding near field communication (NFC) capabilities to their soon-to-be-released phones. Apple, Google, Blackberry and Microsoft are all rumoured to be on board.

Wait… NFC what?!

NFC enables devices to “talk” – a chip in your phone communicates with another chip, whether it’s with a payment machine to transfer funds, a poster to launch an application on your phone, or a friend’s phone to swap contact information. Think Bluetooth meets QR codes meets Bump.

Good-bye credit cards.

Yesterday, CBC reported that Visa expects to release a digital wallet in Canada and US this fall. While this release won’t utilize NFC technologies (yet), users will still be able to pay for purchases using their phone by providing participating merchants with a username and password. Visa isn’t the first either – both Google and Paypal have similar versions. And, as more and more smartphones are equipped with NFC technology, it’s expected that these digital wallets will use NFC technology to make payments as easy as swiping your phone past a merchant’s machine. Looks like you’ll actually have to turn back when you forget your phone at home now.

There were signs.

There have been signs that smartphones would move in this direction for quite some time (at least by digital world standards). For example, earlier this year Starbucks announced that their payment card would go mobile in the US. Simply open the card app, get the barista to scan a code on your phone, and you’re on your way with that extra-hot double-whip mocha in a jiffy.

So, what does this mean for marketers?

Realize the importance of mobile. Mobile technology is increasing at a staggering rate and mobile advertising budgets are on the rise in Canada and across the globe. Like QR codes the possibilities for marketers are endless, from developing their own payment and rewards cards that use NFC, to applications launched through advertising materials. Technology changes quick. It’s our job to keep a finger on the pulse – watching for trends and innovations, but also a foot on the ground – remembering that effectiveness still trumps cool in this biz.



  1. Peter

    Great post as usual H. That coupled with rumours that apple might allow you to purchase anything with your iTunes account is what keeps me up at night. That and too much chinese food.

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