Biometric authentication company NXT-ID will soon roll out a wallet that is designed to digitally store payment cards without a mobile phone.
Called Wocket, the wallet enables consumers to store credentials for plastic cards by swiping them through a reader on the device, which can hold up to 10,000 credentials.
"It's like a physical wallet, but it has an integrated touch screen and can replace all of the plastic cards with a single device," says Gino Pereira, CEO of NXT-ID. "You don't need a mobile device or a Web app; you can load the card directly onto Wocket."
Consumers can authenticate themselves by voice biometrics, typing a password or drawing a figure on the screen. After authentication, the user chooses the specific debit, credit, ATM, ID, ticket, coupon, gift or other card to use at the point of sale. The user then swipes Wocket as if it were a traditional credit card.
The concept resembles that of Coin, a product unveiled last year by Coin Inc. The Coin card is a plastic card that loads cards through a linked mobile app. The card, which costs $50 for pre-orders and is expected to cost $100 when it becomes generally available, has a built-in button and screen that lets consumers select which account to use.
When NXT-ID's Wocket goes on sale, the company also plans to offer accessories that can hold cash or plastic cards. NXT-ID says its offering will appeal to people who do not want another battery-draining app on their phones.
Mobile phones' poor battery life causes "friction" for mobile wallets, Pereira contends. "The technology for mobile phones has not kept upyou keep having to recharge your phone with all of your cards stored on it."
Wocket uses batteries that are available at most grocery stores, cost about $2 and last two years, Pereira says.
The company will run an ad campaign starting May 12 and is scheduled to demonstrate Wocket in New York on May 28. It will start taking orders after that, though it has not yet set a price for the product.
NXT-ID has developed a form of tokenization to shield data "in flight" during processing, and it plans to use this security when it adapts Wocket for e-commerce. The company also plans to add EMV-chip security in the future.
Mobile phones are becoming a more familiar way for consumers to conduct transactions, but there is opportunity for NXT-ID to reach niche markets, says Rick Oglesby, a senior analyst and consultant for Double Diamond Payments Research.
"I don't think the mobile phone as a payment device is too unusual, consumers are using the mobile device to complete transactions fairly readily now, particularly for online purchases," Oglesby says. "They are also increasingly using their mobile devices while shopping in-store as well as online, so the leap from shopping with a mobile device to paying with a mobile device isn't a huge one."
But even if there was a mass adoption of in-store mobile payments, there would still holdouts who prefer the form factor of a card or wallet, Oglesby says.
"Consumer preferences are not uniform so it's feasible that a product like Wocket could have a market in lieu of or parallel with widespread mobile wallets," Oglesby says. "The Wocket looks more like a gadget that would appeal to the Sharper Image or Brookstone type of gadget-loving consumer."