Monday, May 16, 2011

Will Digital Wallets Catch On?

Visa recently announced the fall introduction of a new digital wallet service for one-click buying. Customers with a Visa card simply use a password and click to complete an online or mobile purchase on any Web site, adding convenience and speed to the transaction. Visa is also looking at a near-field communication payment system, in the mode of "wave your phone near the payment point" and enter a PIN to complete the transaction (above).

The digital wallet isn't a new concept. Google has been experimenting with a near-field communication payment system. Isis (owned by big telecommunications firms, among others) plans to test a near-field communication system in Salt Lake City next year. Intuit is working on a mobile payment system of its own.

Will any of these catch on with consumers? To become popular, any digital wallet will have to provide much more convenience and speed than existing payment methods. It will also have to be highly secure, a very important point for customers wary of problems such as the theft of debit/credit card information from compromised PIN pads in Michaels craft stores.

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