I can remember my first wallet. I was around 14 years old and had found a summer job making minimum wage. My proud parents gave me a new wallet with a penny in it "for good luck." I’m not sure where that tradition started but it seemed natural to my New England roots.
The smell of the leather and its new stiffness made it a thing of beauty. Like most men, I kept it in my back pocket and over the years as I grew, the value it carried and the importance of it grew, too. Well into adulthood, as I added a driver’s license, credit cards and other paraphernalia, the wallet played an even greater prominence, not only in my life and but on my rear end, as well. It soon took on the characteristics of George Costanza’s exploding wallet from the "Seinfeld" TV series.
More than that, it also transmits coupons and loyalty points simply by swiping the device near a specially equipped cash register. The success of this technology depends on whether it reaches, as Malcolm Gladwell put it, the "tipping point." It is expected that the number of phones with NFC capabilities will double in 2012, from the 35 million shipped this year to 70 million.
According to Gartner, in 2014, 340 million global mobile users will make mobile payments totaling $245 billion, up from $32 billion last year. Like adoption of similar technology (think smart card), e-wallet devices are taking off more quickly in Europe than here in the U.S. and not surprisingly, one of the first areas to accept e-wallet payments is with online casinos.
So what, if any, implications might this technology have for agents?
Beyond the obvious of perhaps accepting premium payments via NFC devices, I can see the potential of it capturing insurance information. Imagine you’re in a fender bender and you go to exchange information with the other party. During such stressful events, getting all the right information you need may not be foremost in your mind. But picture standing there dialing the police or your insurance agent to report the accident, and this time your phone is independently exchanging insurance data with the other person’s phone; then, while you’re on the phone with your agent, it transmits the information directly to his or her agency management system.