The death and resurrection of the mobile wallet

There is a lot of commotion lately around the mobile wallet, such as the one Orange UK launched last year and ISIS is about to launch in the US. Many refer to the mobile wallet as the ability to pay with your phone, but this view has two serious flaws. First, why just have payment mechanisms in this new wallet? I would like to have there everything else I have in my wallet: from my driver’s license, through my gym membership and ending with my organ donor card. Second, I don’t want it just to be mobile. What I really want is a digital wallet that I can use whenever I want and wherever I want: on my phone, on my PC or at the store. For this to happen, my wallet needs to be accessed from anywhere. And when you think about it, this is actually my personal data wallet – All my personal information securely stored in one place and at my disposal at all times.

So is that the death of the mobile wallet? on the contrary. We need an easy but also a secure way to access our data wallet, and here the mobile comes into play!

The mobile is already our most important digital device, and the most personal – the one that we carry all the time and has our most important information.That’s why it is the most obvious choice for our digital ID remote control. What does that mean? It means that through the mobile phone we can have a secure access to our digital wallet. Access – because it is the device we always have with us and the first one we notice missing. Secure – that is due to the 2-factor authentication that our phone can provide.

2-factor authentication means that to authenticate ourselves we use not only a secret we know (like a password) but also something we have, such as a smart card or a phone. In order to break into our account, someone has to have both, which is much harder than stealing just a password, which we all know is easy. And the phone does it better than any other device – because it is something we already have. Any other secure token will have to be an additional device to carry around. In addition, inside the phone we already have a SIM card, and that is a element that is already designed to provide us with a high-level of security.

Think about the following scenario: You want to get a parking permit for your neighbourhood. In order to do that you have to prove that you are a resident of that municipality, show that you have a car on your name, and pay £50. Nowadays we would need to either send utility bills + car registration form, and then type in your card details, or worse, go in person to the office with all the necessary paperwork. With the digital wallet, it all becomes more simple. You log into the website with your digital ID, you apply for a permit. Then, your digital data wallet ask for your permission to “show” your digital residence card and digital vehicle registration certificate, both stored in the wallet, to the parking service. You then choose the card you want to pay with, and then approve the info sharing and the payment with punching in a PIN code on your phone. The whole process took two clicks and four digits, and it also much more secure, since no passwords and no credit card details are typed online.

That is the future of our digital transactions – and people are working on it as we speak. Next time I’ll try to review what is actually being done to make this a reality.

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