Forget your wallet? No problem.
Soon you may not need it all, as long as you have your cell phone. Canada’s Big Six banks are preparing to launch “virtual wallets,” which will allow consumers to purchase anything they like at any retailer across the country.
The banks will be following in the footsteps of RBC, the first to market their new mobile product this fall, says the Globe and Mail. The rest will launch their versions in 2013.
Virtual wallets will allow consumers to digitally consolidate their credit and debit cards from any financial institution, and use them to make purchases online and through cell phones at cash registers.
Each bank will rely on an “alias” method, where a password will allow consumers to access their payment cards. Private information will be protected in the same way sites like PayPal guard user data.
It will be interesting to see how many Canadians take the leap and completely ditch their wallets and pockets of change in coming years. As the saying goes, old habits die hard; and with our aging population, it’s hard to say how many will trust in the new technology.
Also intriguing is how retailers would deal with the drop in physical cash flow at registers if use becomes widespread. One thing is for sure: the days of cashiers counting change and handing out plastic bags—which have been banned in Toronto, as well as in some of the largest cities in the U.S.—may be history sooner rather than later.