Will you still carry a wallet in 5 years? A smart city means no more cash.

As part of my Graphic design communication course, we got to choose a completely separate topic that we would explore for a few weeks. I choose a topic called The Smart City where we explored the technology and innovations that help create modern day and future cities. This post was written specifically for this project.

A few years ago Apple released the passbook app, now renamed as Wallet it's goal is to replace your physical wallet so all you need when shopping is your iPhone.

If you've added your bank card to the Wallet app and used Apple Pay, you'll know how easy it is to use. The iPhone's NFC sensor recognises when you're at a contactless payment terminal and brings up your card, all you have to do is scan your fingerprint and the purchase is made in seconds. It's completely changed the game, especially in countries where they still swipe your card every time you make a purchase. It's much quicker to scan your fingerprint than to use than chip and pin and also much more secure than a contactless card as you need a fingerprint to verify it's actually you. 

Apple pay is being used more and more and there are now over 100 million contactless card being used in the UK. The Wallet app also collates your tickets, boarding passes, coupons and loyalty cards into one place. A key thing with Wallet is that it is so well inttergrated into the iPhone and Apple Watch. You don't have to open an app, it appears for you when it detects a contactless reader.

Loyalty cards can get annoying to carry around with so many shops and cafes offering them but Apple's Wallet could soon automaticly bring up the relevant loyalty card when you go to pay. So as you pay with Apple Pay, the loyalty card for that store or cafe appears on your phone automatically, meaning you can carry around all of your loyalty cards and redeem points, digitally.

Using Geofences, your iPhone also knows when you enter a Starbucks so it can automaticly bring up your Starbucks cards. When you enter an airport, it will bring up your boarding passes. The iPhones location services mean it can be much more helpful that a physical wallet, showing you which cards and passes you need, when and where you need them. 

As someone who lives and study's in London, the transport network (TFL) is crucial for me getting around. All busses and tube stations accept contactless cards and Apple Pay meaning I can travel around with just my iPhone. This had made travel so much quicker as I no longer need to top up my Oyster card or wait in line for a ticket. I can just walk into any station, tap my phone and get on a train.  

There have been many times now when I have felt comfortable leaving without my wallet, as everything I need is on my iPhone. Most supermarkets, cafes, shops and transport in London accept contactless and even vending machines are appearing with contactless terminals. The UK is leading the way for cashless payment and it could soon be that more people use their phones instead of carrying a wallet.

The challenge is now for Apple to make its Wallet app better support coupons, loyalty cards and receipts. It has mastered the payment system (Apple Pay) so well that it immediately took off as it was so much better than anything else available. As soon as it can master everything else you carry in your wallet, we'll start to replace our physical wallets with Apples digital wallet.



Adam Marsh