Thanks to new wireless technologies like Bluetooth Low Energy, however, it seems like they’re finally on the cusp of becoming a reality. We’re just starting to get a sense of what this future might look like: not just personalized coupons pushed to your smartphone, but things like dynamic pricing, microtargeted fire sales, and in-store mapping and navigation. In other words, the next generation of retail. Of course, the most basic and perhaps most alluring aspect of this future is something much simpler: a more convenient check-out, where our smartphones eliminate the hassle of cash and credit cards once and for all.
Getting it right won’t be easy. In-person payments are a delicate dance, and for a digital wallet to succeed, it will have to be easier than cash and plastic without losing the basic essence of what it means to make a physical purchase. Today, the main challenge surrounding the digital wallet isn’t technology, it’s user experience, and we’re already seeing all sorts of companies gearing up to solve it. The latest is PayPal, who’s making an aggressive play to put itself at the forefront of the frictionless shopping revolution with a new doodad called Beacon.