Instead of leather wallets, consumers could, sooner than they think, carry virtual wallets, with their credit card and bank information stored on remote computers that were accessible everywhere and anytime.
With a new cell phone application called ShopSavvy, a shopper can use the phone's camera to scan an item's bar code in a store to see if it is available for less online. If so, the shopper can buy it with one click if they have already entered their credit card and shipping information on PayPal's Web site.
"We'll just have one wallet, and it lives in the cloud," PayPal President Scott Thompson said.
Big credit card companies also have been working on ways to use the Web and mobile phones to pay. MasterCard partnered with a startup called Obopay to make it possible for people to transfer money with a text message. In Malaysia, Visa has started installing chips in cell phones so people can swipe their phone instead of a credit card.
The biggest barrier to digital money is not technological. It is that Americans think credit cards are already a fine solution. It is also expensive for retailers to install machines to scan cell phones, and many phones' screens are too reflective for scanners to read.
- The New York Times