There’s nothing like losing your wallet to put the prospect of mobile near field communication (NFC) applications into perspective. Having a rummage through my personal wallet reveals a two centimeter thick stack of ‘plastic’ that would take a great deal of time, cost and aggravation to replace.
Here is a brief inventory of my ‘traditional’ wallet: three credit cards, one debit card, two proximity cards (for parking and building access), one contactless transit card, three magstripe airline loyalty cards, three barcode loyalty cards, three graphics-only membership cards and one graphics-only driving license.
I know from bitter experience that replacing just the payments cards can take a week or more, and Apple’s recent announcement of its ‘Passbook’ technology got me thinking about some of the benefits of the digital wallet.
Apple Passbook user experience
I don’t use an iPhone, but if I did the iOS 6 Passbook feature is a path to consolidating the 10 airline, loyalty, membership and coupons into one nifty, portable, iPhone-based wallet. That’s about one centimeter of pocket space saved.
To a certain extent, that would be convenient for me but frankly I wouldn’t lose any sleep if I lost any or all of those ‘second tier’ cards.
It’s the other centimeter of access, travel and card payments plastic that I really want to consolidate, but Apple can’t help me there because its devices aren’t (yet) NFC-enabled and, in any case, these cards and their applications need to be managed in a far more secure and standardized fashion.
Apple Passbook for access control, mobile payments and transport?
It’s therefore going to be interesting to see how Apple, as masters of monetization and proprietary control, develops its Passbook concept to incorporate access control, contactless payment functionality and transport applications.
From a consumer perspective, I want my choices expanded, not restricted, requiring secure technology based on industry standards from bodies such as EMVCo, GlobalPlatform and GSMA.
Digital wallet vs traditional wallet
Looking a bit further ahead, when I lose my digital wallet – which I’m sure to notice far more quickly than the loss of my ‘traditional’ wallet – I will expect to be able to have my payment cards and physical access cards blocked immediately, and made available on my new phone as soon as I receive it. Ideally I will be able to manage this entire process through a single point of contact for all cards.
It’s good to see Apple taking a typically innovative approach to the issue of ‘plastic to digital’ management, but it won’t be replacing my wallet until I can put my secure NFC applications in there as well.
I believe trusted service management (TSM) will be essential to the coordination of any mobile wallet as applications and services from multiple providers need to be deployed to consumers’ mobile handsets. What do you think will be essential? As ever, please let us know your comments.