Virtual Wallets Making It Possible To Leave The Plastic At Home

11:54 PM, Jul 28, 2012   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC--  A UNCG professor explains how a virtual wallet has potential pro's and con's.

If you have a smartphone, there's a good chance it's replaced how you listen to music, store contacts, and communicate. There's also a way for it to replace your wallet.

News 2's Liz Crawford sat down with a UNCG professor who said there's pros and cons to a virtual wallet.

There are many different apps on your smartphone that offer mobile payments or virtual wallets. They come from banks, credit card companies, and even internet companies like Google.

Eric W. Ford, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Management at UNCG said, "It replaces the payment mechanisms, the credit cards that you normally use but even more than that, it tells the phone or device that you're using where you are, and so they get a lot more information about you as you use it."

For example, the app knows when and where you're shopping. It keeps a profile on you such as what you've purchased based on your retail loyalty cards, which can also be stored through the virtual wallet app.

Not only that, but Dr. Ford explained that it can track your whereabouts as you browse through the aisles of a store.

"The retailers are going to take a lot of this information and build very sophisticated profiles on you. They're getting into a lot of your business. They know a lot about you. They can target things to you that you might not need or even want in sort of a not devious, but perhaps unwanted way," said Dr. Ford.

Dr. Ford told News 2 that when you use a virtual wallet, the app automatically knows what credit card to use. You just hold your phone up to a device near the cash register and your card is charged, You can also opt to enter a pin before the transaction goes through for added security.

Dr. Ford uses Google wallet. He thinks this could be the wave of the future, perhaps even storing things like a driver's license.

However, Dr. Ford shared recent findings from a Berkeley Center for Law & Technology survey with News 2. It found that 74% of Americans said they are not likely to adopt mobile payment systems.

If you're thinking about mobile payments, Dr. Ford recommends doing your research and reading the fine print when getting started. There are many choices and things you might want to opt out of.

WFMY News 2

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