It seems that three things are indispensable in most people’s pockets or purses at all times: keys, a wallet and a phone. But, in the not-too-distant future, you may be able to leave the wallet and the keys behind.
The mobile phone is staging a coup.
Some analysts believe that within five years, mobile phones will be able to make electronic payments, open doors, access subways, clip coupons and possibly act as another form of identification.
Squeezing the contents of a person’s purse into a phone relies mostly on a technology called near-field communication, which allows any enabled device to communicate with a cash register or subway turnstile through a secure radio frequency.
The technology is similar to the scanners and passes that allow commuters to pay for drives on a turnpike without stopping at a toll booth.
When a phone is enabled with near-field communication technology, shoppers can load bank and credit card information onto their phones and then scan them to buy goods at the grocery store, gas station, subway or any other place set up to read the device.
Doug Brown, head of mobile product development at Bank of America, said the idea is popular with consumers because it simplifies their lives.
“You don’t need cash anymore. You don’t need your wallet. That’s really the endgame here, is that we can replace the physical wallet and all of the cash needs and the plastic that you’re using today,” he said.