On March 10, 1876 Alexander Graham Bell, telephone’s father, picked up the phone and dialed his assistant Thomas Watson. “Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you,” he said — the first words ever uttered into a telephone.
Neither Watson nor Bell could have looked ahead 137 years, to when folks speak casually on phones countless times per day, text message, take pictures, and settle everything from coffee to co-pays. Consumers now have a plethora of payment options that put the battered leather wallet to shame.
– Dwolla: A peer-to-peer (P2P) network-based system which users can access, pay with, and sign up for through Facebook, Twitter, or by email. At 25 cents per transaction, users can then link to their bank accounts and “pass the dwolla” to friends or merchants on their iOS, Android, or Windows 7 phones–only in the U.S., however.
– Venmo: An easy-to-use SMS/Web-based program, Venmo is free for individual users and charges 3.5% on each transaction for companies. Venmo runs on a platform of mutual trust, hatched as it was by two former UPenn students as a way to settle IOUs. Venmo is offered for Android and iPhone and exclusively for U.S. bank account numbers.
– Square: With a small, sexy little cube, Twitter’s co-founder Jack Dorsey turned every phone into a credit card machine. Guaranteed to put a smile on every business owner’s face, Square charges 2.75% per swipe and offers a smorgasbord of stats —from daily sales reports to most lucrative hours of the day.
Notably, Starbucks and Square partnered up to allow customers to pay via their phones at roughly 7,000 locations across the U.S.
Non-commercial users can slap the Square Wallet app on their phones for hands-free checkout, links to all their credit cards, and easier online checkout.
– TabbedOut: Late-night clubbers need wait no longer on an over-worked bartender since TabbedOut entered the scene. Built exclusively for the hospitality industry, this app allows customers to log in and pay tabs or split checks themselves in 90 cities across 20 states. Additionally, merchants have instant access to customer history, preferences, and feedback.
– Google Wallet: By securely storing credit card information on the infamous cloud, Google Wallet allows users to easily pay at over 200,000 merchants across the U.S. Users can log in online and insert information into online shopping forms, or pay in-store at NFC (near field communication–a type of secure wireless connection) points by tapping the back of an NFC-enabled phone.
Move over coin purse — America’s new billfold is a piece of technology. If Alexander Graham Bell were alive, he would probably swipe the barcode on his phone at Starbucks, too.