The Ever Shrinking Wallet

wallet01My wallet is small.  Friends’ wallets are getting smaller.  Years back I was using an wallet insert (pictured here); and now you can get thin wallets like this by themselves.  Wallets are shrinking themselves into oblivion.

Today my wallet contains just these three things:

  • Driver’s License
  • Payment Card (VISA Check/Debit/ATM)
  • My company’s product, a LifeNexus Personal Health Card

My company’s goal is to be able to combine payment cards with our Personal Health Card (PHC), so that’ll reduce the number down to two.  My last six years at Microsoft, instead of the PHC I had my Microsoft ID, again just three cards.

Sometimes I’ll add a receipt for reimbursement, a blank check, or a little cash, but those above are the only staples.  Cash is only really required at certain types of establishments, like local festivals.  Additional cards like loyalty programs (Kroger, Fred Meyer, etc) or rewards points (Subway, Freebirds) are kept in the car, since they usually tie to my phone number anyway, are only needed occasionally, or can be provided via other means (like a faxing a copy of my medical insurance card).

My expectation is that when we’re able to make payments and provide ID through our cell phones there will be no need for a wallet for many.  That may seem a long ways out, but mobile payment is used in Asia and Apple filed a patent using the iPhone for payment.   Federal ID via a mobile device may be much further out, but I’ll predict you’ll start seeing it within the next 15 years.  Then the wallet will become a relic of the past, used only for a warm fuzzy feeling of security, nostalgia, or as a style piece, like the wrist watch.

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