I am a tightwad. “Cheap,” some folks call me. But really, I am just picky about where I spend my money. I like to think of myself as “discerning.” Because of this, I tend to get antsy when I spot companies finding better ways for me to spend my money. Better for whom – them or me? What about these services make them better?

I was struck by Mark Henricks’ recap of Omar Green’s talk about mobile wallets at SXSW. Hendricks writes:

“Basically, Green said the last thing most of us need is something to help us spend money faster and easier. We need something to help spend money better. That’s where he thinks mobile wallets could help. But first we’re going to have to change our idea of what a mobile wallet is and we are a long way from that.”

Today mobile wallet companies allow you to access credit and debit cards from your smartphone. Companies like ISIS also enable you to store rewards and loyalty program information. The only thing they can’t handle is cash.

Mobile wallets are just one method of mobile payment in a complex landscape. Mobile Marketing Association breaks down the pros and cons of various payment methods. Good news for mobile wallets is that their transaction fees are smaller (generally 1-4%) and they are fairly simple to set up. The big drawback is that not all retailers can accept them as they require special configurations at the retail point-of-sale.

But Green envisions a mobile wallet that will do more than just facilitate payments. He pictures one that will help align your spending and money management with your overall financial goals.
Certain apps have made headwayin helping people manage their money – from timing bill payments to managing late fees to tracking billable hours – but none have captured the whole picture.

The new mobile wallet as Green sees it would be more of a mobile financial advisor. You could set your goals, tie all of your financial information together, and then at point of sale determine if a given purchase is a sound one based on your user preferences.

Optism ran with this idea, suggesting a mobile wallet should also help you save time and simplify your life by streamlining anything from your take-out order to mobile event ticketing.

It will likely take developers awhile to catch up with our grand dreams. Whenever they do, I just hope they include a setting for “cheap.” I mean, discerning.

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