Hang on to your wallets

Among myfaults is an instinctive reaction to say no. Skepticism is, of course,a valued trait among reporters, but it should be tempered. However, atlast week’s Canadian Telecom Summit in Toronto I had trouble beingpersuaded in separate chats by two people – one from Microsoft, anotherfrom upstart Globalive Wireless – that in the not too distant futurewe’ll throw away our wallets and conduct all personal business andpurchases with cellphones.

Now some of ushave wallets the size of phone books, crammed with cash, a half dozencredit cards, a driver’s licence, proof of car insurance, a librarycard, a health care card, a video store rental card …. and in another pocket, three pounds of Loonies. The visionof waving a handset at a wireless reader to buy chewing gum, gasoline,movie tickets, groceries or a laptops has been with us for a while andis a reality in some countries. What more could you ask for but theability to carry less? The latest offering, Zoompass, comes from a joint venture ofBell, Telus and Rogers. But doing away with physicalID?

Both Microsoft and Globalive flashed their trump card: Youcan now board a plane with an electronic boarding pass, they said.Yeah, I countered, but you still have to present your passport or photoID to security to get to the gate. Sooner or later, each repliedconfidently.

In my opinion, later. Muchlater. It’ll be a long time before the RCMP and your local police forcesign off on doing away with driver’s licences. Certainly they won’t beahead of the FBI. Or the U.S. Congress. Police – and lawyers – lovedocuments. They’re so permanent.

Besides, thinkof the challenges. How often has your phone died because you forgot tocharge the battery? What do you tell the policeman who pulls your over?If your plastic photo ID has been worn, he might give you a warning,but if you have no ID at all? The cop isn’t going to give you 24 hoursto show up at the station. He’ll confiscate your car.

On the other hand, surely the image on a cellphone screensthese days has 10 times the resolution of the pitiful pictures on ourdriver’s licences. (There’s a question: How come we have to carry photoID with the detail of a Holga? Where’s thesecurity it that? But I digress.)

Lost yourhandset? Hope you had the keylock enabled. If you thinkmalware makers are multiplying now, wait until ID-on-a-cellphone getsthe green light

This idea will neverfly.

Besides, what's a scalper going to say when you wave yourcellphone? “Sorry buddy, cash only.”



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