Digital wallets and mobile payments

I’m now spending part of my time working on the JISC Observatory, so I’ll be writing occasional tech trends posts here. 

While it could be argued that for most people money went virtual a long time ago with the emergence of online banking and debit cards, there is a strong trend towards “appifying” payments with digital wallets and mobile payment mechanisms.

Square[1] and Google Wallet[2] are the ones making the headlines, but others may be close behind.

In universities, contact-based payments are already used in cafes and libraries using cards such as Squid[3]. Contactless payments are also making their way onto the high street [4][5].

In a slightly more bizarre move, MasterCard is adding contactless payment technology to wristwatches [6].

Most of these systems use variations on RFID and NFC technologies, however perhaps the most critical component is the software, and the service infrastructure that lies behind it[7].

For education, this may not seem like a particularly important development, however most universities and colleges need to handle payments across a wide range of services and facilities (cafes, library, short courses, shop, events) and will probably need to start planning for accepting contactless payments across campus.

[1] Square’s updated Card Case app gets you a step closer to ditching your wallet
[2] Google Wallet is hitting the road for a 5-city tour with $10 “bribes”
[3] http://www.squidcard.com/
[4] Contactless ‘pay at the tills with a mobile’ system introduced 
[5] Firms hope London Olympics push contactless payment across Europe
[6] MasterCard Rolls Out Prepaid Contactless Wristwatch in U.K.
[7] Swift mobile wallet adoption hinges on apps 

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