60-Second Tech

PayPal's Peers Perplex Potential Purchasers

Despite digital certificate services from major companies like Google, MasterCard and Visa, digital wallets other than PayPal have not penetrated consumer consciousness. Larry Greenemeier reports

Our interactions increasingly happen online. So it makes sense, in theory anyway, to have some sort of digital certificate on our computers and smartphones we can use for purchases or to provide proof of identity.

So-called “digital wallets” to replace the ones we physically carry around have been available for years, and are especially useful when shopping online. No need to fill out addresses or payment information because this data is already encrypted (hopefully, anyway) and stored electronically.

But digital wallets have a major problem—hardly anybody’s using them. In fact, many people don’t even know what a digital wallet is, according to the research firm comScore. They recently reported that although most people have heard of PayPal, similar digital wallets offered by Google, MasterCard, Visa and others are relatively unknown.

Of course, ATMs were little used when they appeared in the 1970s and 80s. Now you can hardly walk a block without running into one. So savor your wallet’s leather smell while it lasts. It might soon be consigned to a dresser drawer next to that stack of old bank deposit slips.

—Larry Greenemeier

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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