E-wallets are Coming
Cash is no longer king. Credit and debit cards may not rule the roost forever, either. After years of promise, the electronic wallet – or e-wallet – is finally beginning to change the way we shop.
Although cash is the universal currency, it’s also inconvenient, risky to carry, and it offers retailers no insight into their customers. Plastic is much more convenient, but a never-ending stream of hacking and identity theft cases makes more than a few shoppers – including me – wary of swiping them when they get to the cash register.
Enter the e-wallet. New generations of smartphones, with built-in near field communication (NFC) chips and the right software, are starting – albeit slowly – to make their presence known on the retail landscape. Also known as virtual wallets, they allow consumers to pay for goods by simply tapping their smartphones against the point-of-sale terminal. Payment choices for this new tap-and-go approach remain familiar – credit or debit – except there’s no longer any need to carry plastic: the cards, in effect, are now accessible directly through the smartphone’s e-wallet software.
Many Canadian organizations have launched (or are in the process of developing) e-wallet offerings. Zoompass is perhaps the most well known, and it is already up and running in Canada. It lets users manage accounts and send and receive payments securely from their smartphones.
Canadian banks are also jumping on the e-wallet bandwagon, and many have already stated that offerings are on the way within the next 4-6 months. This follows an announcement by the Canadian Bankers Association earlier this year that introduced guidelines to ensure all mobile payments are secure and efficient.
Although e-wallets have been promised for years, only now is the hardware and software mature enough to support it. Across-the-board adoption is still years away, due to the fact that there is still some organizing that needs to happen in the industry. But rest assured, e-wallets are rising in popularity every day, and Canadians have shown that they are eager to do away with cash if the return is convenience.
If you’re looking for ways to make life easier on your customers, start by examining your own payment solution. If that old cash register is coming up for replacement, now is the time to start asking whether supporting e-wallets and mobile payments is for you. With our high penetration of smartphones in this country and extensive retail infrastructure, it makes sense for businesses to start thinking about the coming change.
What do you think? Are you ready to start adopting e-wallet and NFC technology, or are you a little weary and willing to hold off until the technology matures? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.