There are mobile wallets and then there are mobile wallets.
At CES this week, I came across several different approaches to mobile wallets.
The general idea of a mobile wallet, at least in the minds of many coming out of the mobile world, is that anything in the traditional wallet would be transferred to the phone, so you could leave your wallet at home.
But several of the approaches I saw at CES take somewhat of an opposing view.
Some of the wallets featured use the concept of transferring more capability to a physical wallet, thereby making it smarter, or at least technologically more powerful, than your current wallet.
For example, the iWallet holds all your credit cards and IDs inside a wallet that can only be opened by your fingerprint.
The iWallet can take advantage of your smartphone, though, by sounding an alarm on it when the wallet leaves your proximity, thanks to Bluetooth.
In that case, the wallet uses technology to keep valuables safe and it replaces your traditional wallet.
And then there is the Wocket smart wallet, where the idea is to leave all your credit cards at home after scanning them all into the device.
The Wocket comes with a card that looks and acts like a credit card.
After your identification is verified via biometrics and pin number, you tap on the screen which credit card you want to use and that card is programmed to act as that credit card. After pulling the card out of the device and using it for a transaction, you put it back into the wallet and it becomes neutral again.
The stated idea of Wocket is so that you can leave your traditional wallet at home, since it can hold thousands of credit cards (it does have a compartment for a driver’s license, often required for identification).
And then there is the smartphone case approach, where mobile payment company Looppay showed an iPhone and Android phone case that can hold physical credit cards inside.
The value here is that a removable part of the actual case has built in mobile payments technology that works with most traditional payment terminals by just tapping or waving it.
The twist in these wallets, of course, is that they all target the replacement of the physical wallet with another physical thing.
No matter which approach prevails, it looks like the traditional wallet maker is under siege.