Fifty years ago, no one would have believed you if you predicted that computers would completely change the modern workplace. Typewriters are a thing of the past as are rotary dial phones and Dictaphones. But what will the workplace look like in 50 years? With more people telecommuting, the modern workplace may disappear. But what about the world of commerce?
You’ve probably heard some hard-to-imagine stories as to how technology will evolve. One story is the advance of mobile payments. With the increased use of smartphones, it’s only natural that people will be able to use their smartphones to make payments.
Google Wallet, a free Android application, allows users to transform their Android phone into their wallet. When users tap their phone at checkout, Google syncs to the appropriate credit card or debit card account. Some of the retail locations where Google Wallet is accepted include Radio Shack, Macy’s, Office Max, Foot Locker, and The Container Store.
Currently, Starbucks allows customers to pay with their smartphones at check-out with the use of an optical scanner. The scanner reads a user’s smartphone screen and deducts money from a Starbucks card.
Dunkin’ Donuts recently joined the mobile payment party. Its app stores money on a Dunkin’ Donuts card that is connected to a customer’s smartphone. Users authorize their payment via the phone and scan the smartphone screen over an optical laser reader at checkout.
PayPal plans to go one step further. It will access accounts in the cloud so that users won’t even need their smartphones. PayPal customers who purchase items at Home Depot and other stores will be able to enter a mobile phone number and a PIN on a checkout keyboard, which will transfer money from a PayPal account linked to either a bank account or credit card. In addition, PayPal announced that its customers will be able to use its accounts to buy goods from stores where the Discover credit card is welcomed in Q2 2013.
While these advances are imminent, will all smartphone users feel comfortable transforming their smartphones into wallets? What about security? What if you lose your smartphone and the person who finds it hacks into the phone and your bank accounts? What if you just deposited a large amount of money into a bank account? Now, these cool capabilities don’t sound so impressive. In fact, now, there are some serious consequences.
However, in the words of American businessman Nicholas Negroponte who also founded the non-profit One Laptop per Child: “Computing is not about computers anymore. It’s about living.” So, will your smartphone be your wallet?