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The young people have spoken: wallets are boring. Go digital.| GuyWhoKnowsThings

For a growing number of young people, a wallet full of cash and cards is as out of fashion as millennial clothes, no-show socks and skinny jeans. For the cool kids, carrying just one smartphone is the solution. Iykyk: That's “if you know it, you know it,” for those who don't know it.

I, Brian Chen, a 39-year-old grizzled technology columnist, am not one of those who know. It is incomprehensible for me to part with my wallet, which contains crucial items like my driver's license. So, in an effort to get back into fashion, I recruited my colleague Yiwen Lu, 23, to ask young people how they live like this, and then took the leap myself.

In ditching my physical wallet, I join young people like Ruby Hegab, a 19-year-old student from Fremont, California. As soon as she got her first credit card last year, she said, she was completely dedicated to using her iPhone. to pay for food, parking meters and restaurant meals, and to carry insurance cards.

“If a store doesn't accept Tap to Pay, I won't give them business,” Ms Hegab said. But that rarely happens, because the vast majority of merchants you visit, including big-box retailers and mom-and-pop stores, now accept some form of mobile payment from services like Apple Pay and Venmo.

In a survey that asked just over 2,500 Americans about digital payments, about 80 percent of Gen Z respondents said they were using mobile wallets, and among them, half were eager to use their phones for much more. have to pay for things, according to recent data from Pymnts Intelligence, a research firm that studies commerce.

Young people are increasingly using their phones for purposes that older adults would use a traditional wallet for, such as carrying documents such as driver's licenses, boarding passes, and event tickets. Some of these digital items can be added to Apple and Google wallet apps, while others, such as insurance cards, can be downloaded through third-party apps.

The change in behavior is a reflection of how far mobile wallets have come. About a decade ago, when I covered emerging markets mobile payment applications, most people shrugged at the technology because tapping a scanner with a phone was no more convenient than swiping a credit card. In recent years, amid a global pandemic that pushed people to make contactless payments, Apple and Google expanded their software to support digitized driver's licenses and transit cards, a perfect storm that made mobile wallets more tools.

Braving without a wallet for a week, I used only my phone to do my shopping; go to bars, go out to dinner and go to the movies; and even buy crab from a fisherman's boat. The phone was sufficient in almost all of those situations, although paying for dinner was more complicated and using a digital driver's license to buy wine at a grocery store was a fail.

If you're hoping to ditch your wallet or just want to cut some bulk in your pocket, here's what you need to know.

In many stores, Android and iPhone users can use Google Pay and Apple Pay by tapping their phones on readers next to the register. Many small businesses, such as food trucks, accept payments through third-party apps like Venmo, which allow you to scan a barcode to send money.

However, there is an inherent risk when relying fully on a mobile wallet. Abi Hoyer, 21, of Punta Gorda, Florida, said he didn't carry a wallet for security reasons: In the event of a robbery, the thief would only keep his phone. Even so, thieves could make payments and withdraw money from your account if forced you to share your password.

That's why it's important for iPhone users to activate a new security feature in settings called Stolen device protection, which prevents password access to data such as passwords and stored credit cards when the device is in an unknown location. And Android users should be aware of the steps to lock and purge data of the device in case of theft.

Additionally, not all businesses accept mobile payments. Ms. Hoyer learned this the hard way at Walmart when she discovered that she could not pay for her items and she did not have her full credit card number to register in the store's wallet, Walmart Pay. An alternative solution: Password management apps like 1Password and Bitwarden can securely store sensitive data, including credit card numbers, in case you need to look it up.

Jillian Gillespie, 27, of Chicago, switched to Apple Pay after losing her wallet more than a year ago, she said. This works well for fast-casual restaurants where you pay at the counter, but in restaurants where servers leave a bill and expect to use a credit card, you occasionally have to rely on friends to pay. In those cases, he usually uses Venmo to reimburse his friends.

“I don't really carry my wallet with me, which can bother me sometimes,” Gillespie said.

I ran into similar issues. Of three restaurants, only one brought a reader so I could tap my phone to pay, while the others asked for a credit card, requiring my wife to pay.

Digital scans or photographs of important documents, such as health insurance and auto insurance cards, are now widely accepted as substitutes for real documents. Some insurance providers, such as State Farm, Aetna, and Anthem, offer their digital cards through their apps, which can be added to your mobile wallet. However, not all insurance cards work this way and it can be tricky to find them at any time – you don't want to be stuck going through photos or finding the right app to load your insurance card after a car accident. , For example.

I've found that the easiest method to make insurance cards searchable is to attach images of all of them to a digital note stored on your phone. On iPhones, open the insurance card photo, tap the button in the bottom left corner, and select the Notes app to save the image to a new note. Then rename the note to “Insurance Cards.”

Similarly, Android users can use the Google Keep note taking app. In Keep, at the bottom, tap “add image.” Then choose your insurance card photo and label the note.

Other types of cards and documents, like my Clipper transit card, movie tickets, and gift cards, were fairly simple to digitize: Tapping the Add to Apple Wallet button loaded them inside my Apple Wallet app.

Digitized versions of driver's licenses are still available relatively new and in testing in several states, including California, Arizona, Connecticut, Maryland and Utah. This is where the mobile wallet falls short.

Here in California, for example, you register for a digital driver's license through the California Department of Motor Vehicles app. The app generates a temporary barcode that can be scanned to verify your age and identity. Airports in some states now display signs indicating they will accept digital ID from those who have enrolled in the Transportation Security Agency's PreCheck program, but Many states have yet to participate in this experiment.making it impractical to leave your driving license at home.

Digital ID is also not yet an acceptable substitute for a physical driver's license. The California DMV says law enforcement officers cannot accept the mobile driver's license if they pull you over, and the Arizona Division of Motor Vehicles says people must still carry physical identification.

For alcohol purchases at several grocery stores last week, cashiers were unfamiliar with California's digital driver's license and lacked a scanner to verify the barcode. And at a cocktail bar, a bouncer rejected digital IDs and demanded physical cards.

In the event of an emergency, a person may also have trouble identifying you. apple Medical identification and from google Personal security Features can be set up to show people your name, age and emergency contacts by pressing a shortcut on the phone, but emergency medical workers would need to know how to use the feature.

So it is best to continue carrying physical identification. To do this without carrying a wallet, you can do what some younger people do and place the ID between your phone and the phone case. I found it to be an imperfect solution because the card elevates the phone closer to the edges of the case, making the screen more susceptible to damage when dropped.

After a week, I settled on what I felt was the best solution: a magnetic wallet that attaches to the back of my phone and only carries two cards: my ID and a credit card.

That felt like a trap. But Mrs Hegab, 19, admits that she uses a similar card holder to carry only her driver's licence.

As soon as digital driver's licenses work everywhere, he said, he'll get rid of them.

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