What is a digital wallet and how is this technology improving?

If you’re used to purchasing goods and services using Apple Pay or Google Pay then you might be familiar with the way a digital wallet (or a mobile wallet as it is sometimes known) works. A type of technology that soared in popularity during the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, in-store mobile payments were deemed by many as a safer way to do their shopping – rather than using cash, which might spread the virus.

In practice, your digital wallet can be found as a app on your smartphone and is designed to securely store virtual versions of your debit and credit cards, using your biometric data to confirm it is you making the purchase. This also means that you don’t need to enter your PIN code each time you go to make a transaction. It’s also a handy tool to have available should you forget to take your physical payment cards out with you, or you forget your PIN code. 

In addition to payment cards, many digital wallets nowadays also let you host digital tickets, e-vouchers, and loyalty cards inside the wallet too, so you don’t have to worry if you get to the airport, for example, and remember you left your paper boarding pass at home. This is also more environmentally friendly than printing everything out. 

How does a digital wallet work?

A digital wallet uses data from compatible apps, including your mobile banking app, to store a virtual version of your tickets and cards. However, it should be noted that tickets and cards are not automatically added to a wallet, you’ll need to set this up. Once for a credit or loyalty card, and each time you want to add a ticket.

To add tickets:

  • Click on a link that can usually be found on your order confirmation email
  • Next, tap “Add to Apple Wallet” or “G Pay Save to phone” this should then bring up the digital ticket in the wallet.
  • To save it there, tap “Add” in the top right corner.

When you want to use the ticket, open the wallet app on your smartphone and scan the QR or barcode to pass through the ticket barrier.

To add credit cards on an iPhone:

  • Go to the wallet and tap the “+” button in the top right corner.
  • Follow the steps to add a new card and put in the financial data needed, such as expiry date, billing address, and CVV code.
  • Tap “Next” and your bank or issuer will verify the information you’ve provided to decide if you can use Apple Pay. 
  • After your card has been verified tap “Next”. You will then be able to use Apple Pay to make purchases.

To add credit cards on an Android (Google Pay):

  • Open Google Pay and sign into “payment methods”.
  • At the bottom, you’ll see “Add a payment method”. Tap this.
  • Click “Add credit or debit card” and enter your card information.
  • Verify your payment method by finding the verification code either sent to you by text or in your mobile banking app.

Google also states that it may take a small charge when you first add a payment method to check the card and the bank account are legitimate, but that this will not affect your balance and will be reimbursed once all the checks have been completed. 

The future of digital wallets

The need for vaccine passports to reopen economies post the pandemic is changing the way digital wallets are likely to be used in the future. Soon, you may be able to add virtual versions of your drivers licence, passport, and birth certificate (to name but a few pieces of ID) to your digital wallet in order to prove your identity for age restricted services both in public and online. This includes age verification for social media platforms, like Facebook, who require users to be at least thirteen before making an account.  

The EU wants to make the first version of this platform available to citizens living in the member bloc by September 2022, with testing and a wider roll-out going ahead later if trials were successful. The wallet would be interoperable, meaning that it would work for travellers or residents when they visited any other country in the EU. 

Would you be keen to store your identity documents on your phone? Let us know in the comments section. And, if you have any questions or other technology queries, please tweet us at @techtroublesho1.

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