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Virtual Wallets: What are they…Really?

This post might look familiar to you; we've added an update further down the page. Wikipedia outlines a “Virtual Wallet” as a hybrid checking/savings account with 3 components: a "Spend" account (checking), a "Reserve" account (backup checking, incurs interest), and a"Growth" account (savings). This is a pretty narrow view of a virtual wallet (note to self, update Wikipedia). Virtual wallets are cropping up not just from banks for online banking; they are being offered by credit card companies, SmartPhone providers, and there are even free versions that stores, manages, and organizes digital versions of store membership cards, coupons, loyalty cards, virtual gift cards, or any other piece of information that you store in your traditional wallet. Windows even offers a PC software version of a virtual wallet, but it’s more focused on protecting all those passwords, account numbers, and access codes vs. making purchases and using your loyalty rewards points or gift cards.
GiftCard Partners feels the Virtual Wallet that will not only change our way of shopping, paying, and redeeming, but will also combine the best of the above types and allow us to:

  • Shop online, securely and easily with faster online check-outs
    Virtual Wallet
  • Manage credit card accounts, make payments online and in retail environments
  • Store and secure account information, gift cards, eCoupons from loss or theft
  • Manage gift cards, eCoupons, promotions & special offers
  • Manage & redeem loyalty program points, rewards, etc.
  • Interface with social networking sites

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Google Wallet is closer to reality. Although it's not yet fully launched (as of 6/6/11), it has been formally announced. Google Wallet is a mobile app for the Android phone; you'll be able to store credit cards, offers, loyalty cards and gift cards. "When you tap to pay, your phone will also automatically redeem offers and earn loyalty points for you. Someday, even things like boarding passes, tickets, ID and keys could be stored in Google Wallet." says Rob von Behren and Jonathan Wall, Founding Engineers on Google Wallet. This could make boarding a train as simple as waving your phone near a pay-point, like a train terminal. “Combined with Google Offers (look out Groupon), which is a special-offers service that gives you discounts (and syncs them when you pay), suddenly Google has a mobile payment presence. It needs the Android app to be open, and there is only the Samsung Nexus S phone that can exploit it at the moment, but it should provide some impetus to mobile payments” states Toby Shapshak in
Virtual wallets on the Way. Although we are reading that Google Wallet has launched, Google states, "coming soon" on its website. However, it appears to have already gained traction with merchants. When I searched by my zip code a list of merchants who will accept Google Wallet was topped by
CVS/pharmacy. No kidding...YES, CVS is our client, but that's what came up as the closest retailer to accept Google Wallet. As an Android user, I'm looking forward to this unique customer experience.

Topics: B2B Gift Cards, Gift Card Technology, Gift Card Trends, eCerts, eGift Cards, General Gift Card, Mobile Payments, Healthcare

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