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Get ready for your virtual wallet!

By TheTechDad:

There are two things I remember about the first time I paid for a Starbucks coffee using a smartphone: 1) it was an incredibly cool experience, and 2) it wasn’t my phone! Back then, the Starbucks Card Mobile App wasn’t available on Android, so I grabbed my wife’s iPhone. I wasn’t going to let a minor issue like phone compatibility stop me from experiencing the future of shopping!

Happily, the Starbucks app is now available on all the major mobile operating systems, and paying for a Tall Bold with my smartphone is still one of the most satisfying ways to start the day.

While Starbucks is rightly given credit for blazing a trail in mobile payments, it only scratches the surface of what we will be able to do with our smartphones in the future. Other payment apps like Google Wallet and Visa Digital Wallet are not limiting their goals to just paying for a cup of coffee. Eventually these services aim to store everything from concert tickets to airline boarding passes, making sure that our real wallets and pocket books become almost redundant.

The major carriers are also set to offer smartphone wallet services. Verizon has teamed up with AT&T and T-Mobile to offer the Isis Mobile Wallet, which will allow instant payments, notify users of special offers, and hold virtual versions of a range of popular credit and debit cards. Isis is scheduled to launch this Spring in Austin, TX and Salt Lake City before it starts rolling out nationwide.

And processing smartphone payments is not just restricted to the payee. Since August of last year, Verizon has been offering small and medium-sized businesses the ability to accept credit card payments wirelessly via smartphones using the GoPayment app and a pocket-sized credit card reader. Credit cards can be swiped through the card reader or entered into the app manually. The transaction is processed immediately and funds are deposited in the user’s bank account within a few business days.

Of course, while virtual wallets and other smartphone payment options relieve the consumer from the need to carry around cash or credit cards, they do have their own risks. What if you are in an area with non-existent or unreliable service? And what happens if you lose or misplace your phone? Not to worry say the service providers – smartphone payment services require the use of PINs and, like credit cards, consumers can expect some level of protection against fraud and inadvertent losses.

With added convenience for both the consumer and the retailer, the virtual wallet seems certain to be a big part of our future shopping experience. Just one more reason why we can never be separated from our beloved smartphones!

What do you think of this evolving technology? Do you see yourself ever using your phone as your primary “wallet?” Does any of this new technology worry you? Share below.

This article first appeared in Family Buzz, a VerizonInsider blog on the exciting and ever-expanding world of mobile technology.

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