When my kids were young, getting through any type of checkout was hard enough without having to dig for my wallet. For more years than I like to remember, I had one child pulling on my hand, begging for whatever trinkets lined the aisle; the other needing his nose wiped or his pacifier reinserted. And of course, I was always rushing, already late for my next destination.
Invariably, my wallet was at the very bottom of a diaper bag, under a week’s supply of clothing, diapers, food and bottles. After blindly groping through the bag for at least five minutes, while myriad outfits, diapers and bottles spilled to the ground (usually returned by an impatient bystander) my sweating fingers would finally close around the elusive prize, and I’d triumphantly snatch it out, only to find that my husband had forgotten to put my card back.
Now that the kids are older, it’s not much better. I’ve traded a diaper bag for a purse that has more in common with Santa’s sack than with anything fashionable. I still have to blindly grope through tons of junk (although truthfully, it’s now mostly makeup and tech devices) and when I finally do come upon my wallet – after picking up all the paper receipts that fell out during the digging -, I still triumphantly snatch it out, only to discover that my credit card hasn’t been put back – by my kids. And let’s not even talk about trying to locate loyalty cards and/or coupons.
Mothers of tomorrow will still have to deal with checkout lines designed to induce begging children, but they may be able to get through the experience a bit faster thanks to a new technology that Google is integrating in their upcoming (and at least one current) handsets. Called Near Field Communications (NFC), it utilizes a small chip that allows your phone to perform transactions with designated terminals. If you’ve ever used PayPass™, or any other checkout system that lets you tap or pass a card over a terminal to pay, then you’ve used NFC technology.
Of course, security is always a concern. Since a NFC chip is simply a RFID chip that can handle two-way transactions, there’s been plenty of debate as to how secure NFC really is. Google addresses security on their Wallet site, but the only difference that I see between this and a credit card is that the Google Wallet application requires a 4-digit code to be entered before the transaction can be completed. I’m no security expert, but I don’t think that adds that much additional security (although in my mind, it adds additional bother); therefore, as far as I can tell, security is roughly the same for both methods. (Just as you wouldn’t want to lose your credit card, you won’t want to be losing your phone. Although, one thing that a smartphone has going for it is that many of them can now be tracked using GPS. Let’s see your credit card do that!)
While replacing one credit card with your phone probably wouldn’t save you too much time, Google proposes to (eventually) manage all your credit cards, gift cards, loyalty cards and Google Offers with an Android app called Google Wallet. Google Offers will be accessed at the point of sale by checking in (presumably with Latitude or Hotpot), or alternatively, sent to your phone from your browser. Checking in will also let you access store cards, loyalty cards, and gift cards that you may have with participating retailers. Google Wallet will manage all of these items in one place, securely execute the retail transactions, and future plans include electronic receipts.
Just the thought of not having to dig in my purse to find payment makes me smile. After all, what self-respecting geek doesn’t know where their phone is? (Right back pocket, thanks.)
Back when my kids were little, it took four hands and a foot to get through a line. One hand gripping the oldest’s hand, one hand digging through the bag (two extra hands to pick up whatever fell out of the diaper bag while I was digging), and a foot on the cart to make sure no one absconded with my little one (or that my oldest didn’t reach out with her spare hand and give the cart an almighty push.)
But with Google Wallet, tomorrow’s mom will only need two hands – and a foot.