What’s a digital wallet?
A digital wallet refers to an electronic device that allows an individual to make electronic commerce transactions. This can include purchasing items on-line with a computer or using a
smartphone to purchase something at a store.Increasingly, digital wallets are being made not just for basic financial transactions but to also authenticate the holder’s credentials.
For example, a digital-wallet could potentially verify the age of the buyer to the store while purchasing alcohol. It is useful to approach the term ‘digital wallet’ not as a singular
technology but as three major parts: the system (the electronic infrastructure) and the application (the software that operates on top) and the device (the individual portion).
How was this information gathered?
Primarily, articles were found on popular tech sites using Google Search and Google News. We also used search queries such as “digital wallet” and “mobile wallet”.
A few sources, e.g. mFerio, were found by searching through peer-reviewed, academic journals. In terms of organization, this overview does take some editorial decisions. Section two has
been divided into a) systems and b) applications because the sources refer to the development of a mobile payment system but do not necessarily specify the digital wallet application(s) associated with that system. When it was clear to us that a specific digital wallet application was being discussed, then we placed that technology in the applications section. If you feel
that something should be changed or added to this overview, please e-mail Grant Patten.
Why does it matter?
As we increasingly depend on digital mediums to identify ourselves to governments, businesses and each other, critical questions arise: who is designing these technologies, for what motives, and how
do these technologies operate? While there are benefits of digital wallets (e.g. the ease of transactions for customers and the possibility of a more fraud-proof ID system),
there are various concerns. Digital exchanges can provide citizens the disservice of hiding what information is being exchanged; should an organization be able to collect your name, address
and gender while it only needs to verify your age? Are they allowed to keep this information perpetually, possibly tracking how many times you visit them?
How can Prop-ID Contribute?
This research project can contribute by reminding the digital wallet market that increased efficiency is not the only goal here. The public interest must also be served. There has not been much discourse in the
press around how digital wallet technologies could actually be used to help citizens regain some modicum of control over their personal information. Mobio Identity Sytems from
Vancouver purports to enable selective disclosure but there hasn’t been much discussion about that feature in the reviews of the program. Instead, its ability to facilitate financial transactions has been frontlined. Perhaps the most similar project to ours, then, is the one that Mydex is developing called Personal Data Stores. Mydex is a community interest company (CIC) that seems to have a mandate similar to Prop-ID. CICs were setup in the UK to develop solutions primarily with the public interest in mind, rather than for private benefit.
Use the link to read the full explanation and learn more about digital/E-wallet technology.