Mobile phones have already eaten cameras, camcorders, calculators, rolodexes, more equipment than the average office had in the 80s, and people still ask if mobile money systems will ever take off; usually when they’re short of a topic for the week. Our modern phones store more advanced systems in a small space than Doctor Who’s. It’s only a matter of time until someone looks at an entire card dedicated to saving one name and number, a phone which is barely bigger and can store one number for everyone in the Isle of Man, and asks “Why do we still do it this way? Should I carve a stone tablet for my driver’s licence?”
The utter inevitability of mobile money is emphasised by the system planned for Salt Lake City. We steer clear of location-based stereotypes on this site, because we’re capable of independent thought, but we don’t think anyone will take offence when we point out that Salt Lake City is not Tokyo. The capital of Utah and spiritual home of Mormonism is not known for being on the cutting edge of technology, and they’re working on a mobile banking system. Cash in your mobile is more inevitable than the full stop at the end of this sentence.
The new ”Isis” system overcomes the Catch-22 of new financial systems – you need users to convince companies, and you need companies to attract users – by focusing on a single city. By working with the transit authority and local chamber of commerce, they’re setting up a seed city to show off the technology, with the intent of interesting other cities in the working technology.
There are thousands of vital problems to be worked out, from security to access control. The problems will be solved because it’s the next evolutionary step – the only question now is, which comes first: credit cards becoming obsolete because they’re in our phones, or the phones becoming obsolete because they’re embedded under our skin and about a millimetre across.
I really hope the phones win. I want financial information in phones because that, combined with an invention I’ve been working on, will make the world a better place. Well, I say “invention” but I mean “someone with a cattle prod.” But they won’t mind because job satisfaction is very important. We’ll have one stationed in every cinema and when anyone takes a call during the movie, the prodder gets to electrocute them through the handset. And then, because all their credit information was on the phone, they’ll be bankrupt and unable to ever buy another ticket.