Clearly, most of us enjoy the many conveniences offered by today’s smartphones and associated mobile applications. This week, Google takes things one giant step forward, announcing availability of their highly anticipated Google Wallet — an Android-based application that uses NFC technology to serve as a digital/virtual wallet. In classic “hip” Google style leading up to the announcement, they published a great Seinfeld-based YouTube video featuring George Costanza, clearly demonstrating one of the many value propositions inherent to a mobile wallet.
Partnering with some big hitters in a worthy attempt at organizing the value chain, Google is leveraging access to CitiBank/MasterCard’s point-of-sale footprint, as well as leading with US carrier Sprint to configure and support the mobile handsets. Google and the gang will soon get competition from some other industry heavyweights including ISIS (a partnership by several large US carriers including Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T) which plans to launch early in 2012, and VISA who will launch their own mobile wallet later this year. Interestingly enough, VISA announced yesterday they will also add their payment card to the Google Wallet.
While there will be many “kinks” to work out over the coming years until we have widespread use of mobile wallets, this is a great innovation in mobile computing that will pave the way for more and more applications in the coming years. Personally, my wife can’t wait for the day when she can use a smartphone to start her car, unlock the doors at home AND the office, log on to her computer and access the dozens of websites that are protected by a wrath of insecure and painful-to-use password- based credentials.
Will Google deliver all this and more? Not alone for sure. There will be several other key providers that emerge; Apple will be there shortly and the likes of Amazon, PayPal and the next innovative start up will be there to help provide you with the options, choice and services that best meet your needs.
What about Entrust? How do we fit in? Well, all of these use-cases rely on a fundamental requirement: how do you ensure that it is the correct user (as opposed to a thief) that is provided access to both physical and logical resources? That’s the value of identity-based security. Looking forward, as more and more applications come to the smartphone and Internet, the more identity-based security solutions will be essential to provide the underlying assurance and confidence that our lives won’t be comprised for the sake of convenience.