Monday, September 19, 2011

Google Wallet Will Be a Dream for a While

Google Wallet launched today. Video embedded below:

I'm a Visa guy more than MC, and have dabbled with Visa's NFC-equivalent technology, payWave. Rumour has it that Visa will eventually partner with Apple, and (again) the big brands will go head-to-head. As a consumer, I'm already frustrated with yet another push of proprietary technology (anyone committed to open-tech standards these days?). Honestly, I'm hoping to see the banks compete here, and they likely will over time. Unfortunately, the blunt truth is that CC companies always seem beat them to the punch when it comes to innovating payment technology.

And so we begin the era of mobile-enabling our credit card payments. This wasn't unexpected, and five years from now we'll probably see the adoption curve well established. Hard to imagine otherwise, especially here in Canada where our reliance on the banks' Interac epayments normally leaves my 'leather' wallet empty of cash dollars, but always filled with lots of cards.

The big hurdle for adoption, as I see it, is that we've been making epayments for 20+ years now, and that hasn't replaced the need to carry (at least a little) cash. I believe the same will be true with respect to replacing traditional wallets with mobile-wallets. No matter how great they make it, we won't be dropping our non-digital equivalents any time soon.

Why? Well, for starters, some of your cards won't work -- maybe they aren't Google or Apple approved "partners", or maybe they're smaller, local businesses, or they're just not onboard yet. We're also still conceivably carrying a few business cards, a drivers' license, and "a little cash" ... so guess what? You're still carrying a wallet. And a cell phone. And you now have *two* personal-finance items that cannot be lost.

On the plus side, I can attest to the hip and lower back pain caused by carrying a (thick) traditional wallet in one's back pocket. Not smart on my part, but old habits die hard. Any technology that culls my collection consumer affinity program cards? Will be most welcome.


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