Table d' hote: The next great thing
It appears one day soon we may all no longer have to worry about leaving home ever again without our wallets.
Forgetting one's wallet is inconvenient, but I don’t remember ever doing much financial stressing over forgetting my own.
For instance, I don't go inside a coffee house and slap my wrists because I only have enough pocket change to buy a regular cup of Joe. Rather than go home and retrieve the wallet with debit and credit cards, I simply order the inexpensive coffee of the day.
Yes, there have been multiple course dinners with special dates where I realized at the end of the meal that the billfold was back home in last night's jeans. In those situations, I ask the special one to pick up the check. It can be tense and repercussive, but, if the special one and I never see each other again, at least we had a great last meal together.
Now, my innocent days of monetary insouciance appear numbered.
Banks and mobile phone companies have teamed up to see that we never have to worry about cash and plastic money being left at home in our wallets again.
They're going to eliminate plastic credit and debit cards by encouraging everyone to pay for physical purchases by using cell phones.
Our Big Bank friends are forecasting that 2011 will be the year when contractless mobile phone payments via cell phones break into the mainstream. Bank marketing departments and their Capitol Hill lobbyists are calling this soon-to-be irresistible kind of cell phone credit card container the ‘mobile wallet’.
Everybody from MasterCard to Google to Citibank and AT&T is in on it.
They're predicting cell phone purchases will take over incrementally, much like the way flat screen televisions captured the TV market from the big box boob tube.
The banks think such a system will be enormously popular, that we'll be downloading coupons at checkout counters and making all our on the spot purchases via cell phones.
There are drawbacks. Consumers will have to upload a ton of personal and financial information on the phones in order to purchase with them.
I've never permanently lost a wallet, and had to spend a couple of nights in a Mexican border town in order to have one stolen. But in less than four years, I've lost a cell phone, and had another pilfered. You get the picture. Owners treat cell phones like throwaways because their life spans are short, and upgrades are always around the corner.
Meanwhile, unscrupulous people lust for the information in the phones. When the mobile phone wallet system arrives this year, we'll start having the means to expose personal finances and records on wireless networks in all manner of options, and creeps with fraudulent intent will no doubt intensify their efforts to get this information.
While I don't worry over forgetting my wallet at home, I'm like any self-respecting citizen when exposed to the angst and emptiness that comes from being stranded without a mobile phone. I don't mind if my wallet sits on the dresser while I'm on the other side of town, but don't take my cell phone away.
Maybe, to keep in step with the times this year, I'll submit to the mobile wallet offers when they come over my phone and in the mail. At some point I'll enter all my financial purchasing information, add my insurance card, driver's license information, Social Security number, and in order to purchase on the spot, flash ATM machines with the phone and pull out cash, and who knows what all else.
Won't it be great? Stripped naked out there in the new financial world, spending at the drop of a hat, and part of the next great next thing, warts and all.