Tuesday 12 April 2011

Where did I put my e-wallet?

Having driven 30 minutes to the shop, walked around for 30 minutes and then went to the checkout with a bunch of stuff.... Felt like a right prat when I realised I had left my wallet, not in the car... but at home!  Doh!


But this got me thinking....

Where are all the E-Wallet technologies and smart phone payment methods people had been heralding back in the naughties?  I even work for one of those companies that was dead set on the ewallet idea and could see it as the only way forward.  But, I haven't seen anything about it yet, nor will I as that side of the business is long since gone.

So, where does this leave us?  What will we be using in the next 10 years for payments?  Cash, cards, phones or something else?  We've all seen the adds for Barclay's contact less payments stuff... You know, the one with the numpty in the waterslide.... But isn't that removing a layer of protection from us?  If that numpty lost his wallet (or card) what is to stop someone finding it and using it to buy stuff? (before he cancels it of course) See, there's no pin protection with it, no authentication, nothing.... just swipe/tap/hover and go.  Just like the Oyster Cards in London. This uses Near Field Communication (NFC) to read the card without having to physically touch the card. Google are working on a payment method using this technology on the Google Nexus S Android phone.

The problem with contactless this and chip and pin that is that it involves new equipment to be installed at the point of sale. And the banks aren't going to pay for that nor are the shop owners willing to pay for it.  So, what next?  There are some cards being tested out there now with onboard electronic strips (not magnetic) that only load up the information once the correct PIN is entered directly on the cards keypad, before you hand it to the cashier for swiping, and then blank the strip after a minute. This is more secure than traditional magnetic strip cards as there is no information in the strip until it is loaded up.  This works for both Credit Cards and ATM/Debit cards.

But this has disadvantages too.... While the strip is active, it can still be cloned.  So, is there any other technology out there that could be used? Something we all have (or will have in the next few years)?
The SmartPhone!

Most mobile phones in use today are smart phones, capable of running custom applications.  Certainly in the near future, they will be in the vast majority compared to traditional Phone and SMS boxes, right?  So, what can these smart phones do that doesn't necessarily involve new equipment at the point of sale?  Barcodes.
The future is barcodes.  They have come on leaps and bounds since they first started being used in 1949. Nowadays, everything you buy in the shop has a barcode on it.  In fact, the use of QR Codes is becoming widespread. Most smart phones on the market today come with a barcode scanner that can be used for anything from helping you with your shopping to scanning in someone's contact details via a QR code.  So, why can't we do this the other way round?  Why can't we use a barcode (probably a QR Code to be exact) generated on our phones, for the retailer to scan, for the payment to be authorised?  Seems to me like it could work with little changes to existing equipment!?!  You heard it here first!

QR Code for the URL of this article.

Details on how to us the Google API to build a QR Code image URL for adding to websites/emails,  can be found here: http://code.google.com/apis/chart/docs/gallery/qr_codes.html

You can generate your own QR Codes simply on may websites, such as:
... to name but a few.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there StoreeBudI know the feeling about leaving your wallet at home. I always seem to be forgetting mine. And no, that's not why I have so much money (because I always have to get others to pay). Why we have been so successful in Microsoft is that we have always been so good at focusing on future technologies. The eWallet is certainly something that I would like developed further. In fact, I'll get my guys working on it now. Take a look at other ways we at Microsoft see technology developing in the future...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KnIJoHibiQAlthough sorry StoreeBud. None of it will be available on opensource!!Keep up the good work. I really enjoy your blog - especially the piece on the Linksys router.Bill