Can my wallet go digital?

I've got too many cards in my wallet

I've got too many cards in my wallet

My wallet is bursting. Not with cash, but with cards. Before you even get to banking cards, there’s my driving licence, football season ticket, two cinema membership cards, supermarket loyalty cards, Blockbuster (yes, I still have one!) and a dozen or so more left at home. There’s just too many to carry around.

It would be so much simpler if they could all be combined somehow, or made digital, or even all stored on my phone. Well, that might be a possibility…

I’ve read rumours online that the Google Wallet app is going to launch in the UK soon. You store all your credit card details in the app, then when you buy something, you tap your phone on a reader and enter a Pin directly onto the phone.

Your receipt will be stored digitally, and the app will also recognise loyalty cards and discount vouchers.

With apps such as Apple’s Passbook letting you hold tickets and airline passes digitally, I feel lighter already.

Would Google Wallet work here?

In the States, Google Wallet has been around on Android devices since 2011. My early-adopting techie friend Amit lives in San Francisco and he’s a fan. He says it allows him to empty his wallet and not worry about which card he needs to use where.

However, it’s not been a massive success and is still operated on a small scale over there, so would it work in the UK?

Google Wallet needs phones to have NFC technology embedded – the same system used for contactless payments. At present NFC is only used in a handful of Android devices, so the phone range is pretty limited. But the infrastructure is well placed as unlike the US, we’ve already got plenty of contactless pay points.

But while the idea has it strengths, what happens if I lose my phone? Or the battery runs out? And how do I use it to access cash points?

Also, big players such as PayPal, Worldpay, Barclays and Square have systems that all work differently. So I might need one app for this card or shop, another app for that card and that shop, and still not be able to use the apps everywhere – so with all the different systems, the easiest thing might just be to continue using physical cards.

Then there’s the scary idea of fraud and hacking, although I’m not too worried about that. When I was pickpocketed in Buenos Aires, I had to call up and cancel all the cards. With a virtual wallet, I could simply cancel them online with a few clicks.

To me, a Pin on a phone is no different to a Pin on a card, and tapping the device makes cloning harder than when the waiter disappears for 10 minutes with your card, as happened to me once. Also, banking apps have got a lot better recently and have helped me keep track of all my spending, so if something isn’t right I’d be able to tell straight away.

So in the short term, it looks like I’ll need to keep hold of my cards. But I can’t wait till my wallet goes the way of my CD collection. What do you think of a digital wallet? Please share your thoughts in the discussion below, or in the forum.