My Wallet is Ringing


Exhibit 1: Analog Wallet

Apple’s announcement and release of ApplePay on last Monday may have far reaching repercussions for digital commerce, but will it deliver everything that it promises?

Comparing two stories on the matter from TechCrunch and The Wall Street Journal, there are many  pros and more than a few cons for the technology. If Millennials have learned nothing else, we appear to have a healthy understanding that we can’t believe everything we see and hear unless we investigate. We could also speak from experience on how once unknown technology is now ubiquitous and we can’t go more than (insert length of time) until we need to use it again. Apple’s goal with the new release is to make analog wallets obsolete while payments and card information can be carried on a central device already in our pockets. In support of this technology, centralization has been a key to human ability in communication and increased productivity. Without a centralized nervous system, for example, the signals we receive from the world might not reach the system administrator (the brain) in a timely way to promote the health and safety of the individual. The centralized wallet, phone, computer, calendar, music player, etc. is the next progression of our interface with the wider world, but what is the cost of this efficiency?

I remember my first cell phone. It was a brick. I didn’t even have the simple “Snake” game, but it fulfilled the purpose of its design. I would upgrade phones through the years, but it wasn’t until my first networked smartphone that I began to have the feeling of “missing something” if I walked out of my house without it. The “fear of missing out” that we describe these days, was more an issue that I felt I lacked access to a necessary tool for today’s society. Now if we combine a wallet with our phone, how will that affect our feeling of participation in the larger society? People who feel “naked” without their phone, may be literally locked out from controlling their lives if something should happen to their hardware. Society has made us cybernetic creatures and losing access to the network could be as debilitating as losing an appendage or one of our senses.

I’ll take the optimistic road and say that there is value in this convergence, but I don’t know if ApplePay will usher in the next leap. I lean towards humanity on the spectrum of technological determinism, and we need to remember that technology is fallible too. Our abilities to communicate, purchase, and  engage will continue to converge, but as Millennials (and all generations) we need to remember the strengths of previous practices to grow productively, and not fear potential future disruptions.

What are your thoughts on digital wallets? Share your thoughts and continue the conversation.