What’s in Their Wallets?

What’s in your wallet?

That’s the question I asked some digital money experts, whose job it is to push the creative boundaries on payments.

So, having captive reps from some of the key companies — BOKU, BilltoMobile, Intuit and Tapjoy — involved in leading the charge to do away with cash and plastic, I wanted to know what they carried around daily.

And — given I was moderating a panel for the MobileBeat 2011 conference, titled “The Likely Winners In Mobile Payments: Carriers, PayPal?” — it seemed like an appropriate query.

You’d think they would be on the cutting edge, right?

Wrong!

In fact, two of the panelists were still carrying around checks; one had dozens of credit and debit card options from banks around the world; and two were even carrying business cards from their previous employers, because they believed they could get discounts at rental car agencies.

Only one had a digital wallet.

That was Steve Klebe, VP Business Development & Strategy, BilltoMobile, who actually had an NFC-enabled sticker on the back of his phone, which was connected to his Discover account. But he’d only used it once.

It was also Klebe who carried around a blank check, in case of an emergency. Ron Hirson, BOKU’s SVP Product & Marketing, also had the kind of money that folded — a $50 American Express travelers check.

Remember those?

Omar Green, Intuit’s director of strategic mobile initiatives, had the biggest wallet — bursting — with a giant pile of cards stuffed in it. Deng-Kai Chen, director of product management at Tapjoy, easily won for carrying the lightest wallet — he claimed it was bad for your back if you sat on anything bigger in your pocket.

Everyone also had a variety of loyalty cards, photos, receipts and transportation passes.

What about me?

As the solitary female representative at the table I was the only one with coins, including about $2 in pennies (because I’m too lazy to ever spend them). I also probably had the most cash — around $28, mostly in $1 bills.

So how close are we to a mobile wallet revolution?

Judging by what was in our wallets, you might want to wait a while.

Photo Credit: allie.


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— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus