Forgetting your wallet may be a crafty excuse for getting out of paying for dinner, but most of the time it can be pretty inconvenient, to say the least. Well, guess what? The day is fast arriving where you won’t need to bring your wallet with you when you leave the house. In fact, you can probably throw that old thing away.
How come? Did society suddenly put up a FREE sign and retailers stop charging for goods and services? Sorry to break it to you, but no. You may not need your wallet per se, but you’ll still need the funds in your account (whether it’s in a bank, or up in the cloud). Let’s take a look at how the payment world is changing and five companies leading the charge.
Wirecard AG (FRA:WDI) is a multi-billion dollar payment processor. This company doesn’t have to sell to consumers. In fact, you’ve probably used their products already, without knowing it. Over 150,000 merchants pay Wirecard for its services directly, and it also recently acquired Citi's popular prepaid card division. In addition, millions of merchants who simply accept Visa and Mastercard app payments have unknowingly contributed to Wirecard's mobile wallet division.
CEO Markus Braun explains, “Mainstream mobile payment today is totally leveraging today's infrastructure at the merchant. So, basically, it's the same Visa and Mastercard access point that is already there. We are able to provide some innovative virtual Visa and Mastercards on a prepaid basis in a mobile wallet.” Even if the merchant simply accepts your Visa payment through your mobile app, your prepaid Visa card was created virtually by Wirecard.
PayPal may seem like the grayhaired relation gatecrashing the party, but continued improvements to their platform are keeping them in the game. Their main selling point of sending money to an email address still applies and is their most widely used service. But they’ve also developed an easy-to-use mobile app that lets you make payments on-the-go, as well as separate merchant products and a card reader.
PayPal’s high fees may put some people off, but their experience and superior technology is undeniable. As the happy customer on their website enthuses, “I paid with PayPal and didn't even have to take my wallet out of my pocket.” Now you can easily choose your payment method and check out on your phone. No lines and no hassle.
Payment processors, Worldpay, have been powering transactions behind the scenes like Wirecard for over 30 years already. Another company that sells to retailers, Worldpay’s mobile wallet solutions are changing the definition of the physical wallet as we know it. Focusing on contactless payments, merchants can accept payments from a mobile phone easily and customers can pay for goods and services without their wallets. Worldpay is integrated with Apple Pay, Android Pay, among others.
Acquiring SecureNet Payment Systems in 2015, Worldpay combines its size and scale with the multi-channel commerce technology from SecureNet. CEO of Worldpay US, Tony Catalfano, commented, “Thinking about how to enable a next generation customer experience is, for us, about interacting with the software developers and the people creating the next generation POS system.”
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably started seeing the “Bitcoin accepted here” sign showing up at more physical stores and websites. Any idea what it means? Bitcoin isn’t like regular money, in the sense that it’s actually a “cryptocurrency,” with no physical coins or bills (just digitally generated ones). Just like any currency though, Bitcoin works in the same way. A good is for sale, you want to buy it, an exchange takes place. All without getting your wallet out.
If you’ve become attached to the idea of your favorite money holder, you’ll still get to choose a “digital wallet” with Bitcoin. You can even pick where you keep it; online, in your iPhone or Android, or even a hardware device. The coolest thing about Bitcoin is that it cuts out the middleman, which means no banks and no fees or commission. You can even make payments anonymously, should you be secretive about your finances. International payments are also cheaper as there’s no currency conversion involved, just Bitcoin to Bitcoin.
Like Worldpay, Wirecard and PayPal, we’re talking about regular money with Square. One of the first companies to pioneer the transforming of an iPhone or Android into a cash register, this company now processes millions of dollars in payment every day. As with PayPal, customers can check-out and pay for items using their Square Wallet (an app, not a leather accessory). The cashier simply confirms the customer’s identity and the system takes care of the rest.
Just like PayPal, you can use Square’s latest feature, Square Cash, to send money to an email address. But the really cool difference here is that the person you send money to doesn’t need to have an account with them. All they need is an email address and away you go!
As our lives become increasingly meaningless without our smartphones, so increments the number of uses for them. You’ve already ditched your alarm clock, camera and MP4 player. Next up, watch as your wallet becomes obsolete as well.