The Kids Are Ditching Their Physical Wallets In Favor Of Mobile Payments

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On his iconic 1990s sitcom, Jerry Seinfeld told George Costanza that his pal’southward overstuffed wallet was “morbidly obese” and similar a “filing cabinet” nether one-half of his fanny. Costanza responded that his famously fat billfold was “an organizer, a secretary and a friend.”

If these exchanges took identify today, Costanza might be referring to his smartphone.

The concrete wallet isn’t dead yet, not by a long shot. But the smartphone is steadily usurping the reasons for carrying it.

Some people are finding it much simpler to reach into their pockets for an iPhone or Android handset when buying stuff in stores and borer to pay at the last. Or using a smartwatch to pay. For them, pulling out a wallet to catch greenbacks or a credit card is then, well, 1990s.

While any discussion of a digital wallet is understandably centered effectually the relative ease of making mobile payments, the fact that you tin likewise use the telephone as a repository for all the printed stuff that in one case fattened your own Costanza-thick wallet — potentially eliminating the unseemly bulge in your pants pocket or freeing up infinite in your pocketbook — is an added benefit. Information technology’s not only dollar bills but coupons, COVID-19 vaccination proof, insurance and medical data, receipts, snapshots, stores’ loyalty cards, student IDs, transit passes and, soon, driver’s licenses and state IDs.


Paying by telephone is becoming increasingly popular, just not everyone is buying in. Smartphone users in the Usa who make at least one mobile payment transaction in a shop over a six-month period will grow from 101.2 million, or 36.four percent of the population, in 2021 to a projected 125 million (43.7 percent) in 2025, according to Insider Intelligence market research firm.

Millennials and the Gen Z crowd make up the majority of these users, merely during the same stretch the boomer segment is projected to abound from 8.8 million to ten.ii million.

Learn more than live and online

AARP’s free online classes can aid y’all learn more nigh your smartphone, its capabilities and its apps.

• Senior Planet from AARP has live courses that can help you cull and use the best phone for you.

• AARP’southward Virtual Community Centre has a Tech Help area with interactive events that include smartphone employ.

Merchant acceptance is on the rise, too. In the U.S., Apple’southward Apple Pay system is accepted at more than nine of 10 concrete store locations that can handle near-field advice (NFC) payments, the industry standard technology protocol designed to work only between short distances — in other words, between phone and payment last. That’s the same technology that allows you to tap some chip-embedded credit cards on acme of payment terminals instead of inserting them.

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The Google Pay system is also accepted everywhere there’s NFC in the U.S. Google says more than than 150 million people in 42 global markets countries are using Google Pay every month.

You’ll still encounter restaurants, gas stations and mom-and-popular establishments that won’t accept mobile payments or in some cases anything just cash. Information technology’s a major reason why consumers otherwise willing to use their phones to transact won’t ditch their wallets completely.

Reluctance remains a factor

There’s other resistance. Deeply entrenched habits dice hard, and persuading people who’ve been pulling cash or plastic cards out of wallets their entire lives to exercise something different isn’t piece of cake. Security is also elevation of heed for consumers.

“Do I want all of my very personal data in digital form for someone to have access to information technology?” asks Gregory H. Moore, 73, a psychologist nearly Princeton, New Bailiwick of jersey. “Convenience is wonderful, but it allows the nefarious access to way too much about me.”

The reality is that handing a credit carte to a waiter or sales clerk is potentially riskier than using a digital wallet congenital on encryption standards and biometric authentication such as facial recognition and fingerprints. Whatsoever signal-of-sale final can exist vulnerable to the surreptitious installation of an identity theft device chosen a skimmer. For example, whenever you use Apple tree Pay, your actual credit or debit card number is not shared with the merchant, and Apple says it does non have admission to or share data about when or where you utilise Apple Pay.

Others say they worry virtually losing their phone or running out of battery power.

“I’d much rather exit habitation without my telephone than my wallet,” says Dave Migdal, cofounder of Here and Now Public Relations in Carlsbad, California. “[I] don’t have to keep my wallet charged.”

COVID-19 breaks down barriers

COVID-19 has been a goad for behavior change. “Customers didn’t desire to bear on things in stores and at the same time are becoming more comfortable with tap and scan engineering science,” says Jaime Toplin, senior inquiry annotator for payments and commerce at Insider Intelligence in New York.

Forrester Inquiry recently predicted that 2022 will be a big year for the digital wallet, again driven past the pandemic. “Some people switched nearly overnight to online commerce. But even in person, a combination of QR codes, vaccination passes, and COVID check-in tools all weigh in,” the firm blogged.

Xi percent of U.S. adults online surveyed past Forrester used a digital payment service for the commencement time in April 2020. A month later on xix percent fabricated such a payment in a store for the first time. Forrester added that 57 per centum indicated they are “likely” to keep using digital or contactless payments.

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Several states OK digital driver’s licenses

The iPhone oversupply has able to pay using Apple Wallet since 2014. Information technology non but lets you make contactless payments in person or online — employing the credit cards and debit cards yous’ve loaded into the app — but you too tin tap and go in some cities to ride subway trains and buses, admitting not necessarily with the commuter discounts available with some transit passes.

In March, Arizona became the starting time state to launch a digital version of its driver’s license in the Apple Wallet app, which in some cases volition also be accepted as proof of identity at Transportation Security Administration checkpoints in airports. Several other states — Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma and Utah — plan to soon follow conform, as does Puerto Rico. Even in its primeval incarnation, when it was known as Passbook, Apple permit you store boarding passes in the app, forth with tickets to ballgames, concerts and theaters.

The equivalent Android app is the recently announced new Google Wallet app, slated to launch this summer. In the U.S. and elsewhere, Google Wallet will complement Google Pay, which has confusingly gone through a rebranding of its own through the years — the electric current iteration was formed in 2022 from the combination of an older Google Wallet app and Android Pay.

Google also plans to let its users store commuter’southward licenses in Google Wallet starting later this twelvemonth, along with other forms of ID, event tickets, loyalty cards and more. Both Apple and Google are too opening upwards their wallets to digital keys that will let people unlock their front doors, hotel doors and car doors.

Android users take other payment options besides Google Pay. Samsung Galaxy owners might cull to use the culling Samsung Pay mobile wallet arrangement.

How to pay

Despite its rapid adoption during the pandemic, setting up and using mobile payments has a learning bend, especially for older consumers. An initial step involves loading the credit and debit cards y’all desire to use for payment and so getting the hang of the tap-and-pay dance. Toplin says younger users are teaching parents and grandparents how to set contactless payments.

In general, when you lot’re getting set to pay, wait for the wavy contactless payment symbols at the payment terminal and/or logos for Apple Pay and Google Pay, which sometimes appears as G Pay.

To pay with an iPhone that has Face ID facial recognition, double-click the side push and concur your phone virtually a uniform contactless reader, assuming that you lot want to utilise whatever carte du jour you set upwardly as a default. If non, tap the default menu in the app and choice any other carte you desire to use. You’ll see a circled cheque marking and the give-and-take Done when a transaction is complete.

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The procedure is like on an iPhone with Touch ID except you identify your finger on the Touch ID fingerprint sensor.

If using an Apple Watch to pay, double-click the side push button, which will open up your default card, and hold the brandish of the sentry nearly the contactless reader.

To apply Google Pay, unlock your device — Android methods vary — and concord it near the reader for a few seconds. A blueish check mark confirms that the transaction went through.

People who want to store payment cards, passes, IDs and do tap and pay, will be able to do and then via the new Wallet app once it arrives. Users who want deeper payment experiences such equally the ability to view and manage their payment transactions, make “peer-to-peer” payments to swap money with family and friends, or save loot with offers they can use the Google Pay app, Google explains.

Google Wallet volition also exist compatible with smartwatches based on Google’s Wear Os.

With both Android and Apple tree’s iOS software, you can besides employ various tertiary-party peer-to-peer apps, including PayPal, Square’due south Cash App and Venmo.

Keep in heed such apps accept different operating rules and lack the same protections and recourse you lot get with a credit bill of fare. Treat these equally greenbacks transactions and be sure the person you’re paying is who they say they are. As 1 security measure out, Google says if Google Pay doesn’t recognize someone who requested money from you, you’ll come across an alarm to make sure you know the person before you transport the loot. Apple volition serve upwards a like alert with its ain Apple tree Greenbacks peer-to-peer pick.

Your concrete wallet might non be gear up to retire just yet, but even minimalists probably are carrying both a billfold and a device, more than they did during the fourth dimension ofSeinfeld.

“The existent question is [this]: Are yous comfortable enough to leave dwelling house without your phone?” asks Natalie Lingo Kerris, 56, a brand marketing consultant and former head of Apple public relations.

This story, originally published Dec. i, 2021, was updated to include new information on Arizona digital driver’s licenses and Google Wallet.

Edward C. Baig is a contributing writer who covers technology and other consumer topics. He previously worked for USA Today, BusinessWeek, U.Due south. News & World Reportand Fortuneand is the writer of Macs for Dummiesand the coauthor of iPhone for Dummiesand iPad for Dummies.​​

The Kids Are Ditching Their Physical Wallets In Favor Of Mobile Payments