Of course, while Wallet is Google’s first big push into mobile payments, it is far from the first. Mobile payments have been “the future” of payments for decades now, long before the days of smartphones equipped with NFC (or Near Field Communication). Early attempts in the 1990s from companies like DigiCash focused not on phones, but on standalone “smart cards,” which promised better security, no transaction fees and more convenience than traditional credit cards — one day we would use them not to just pay for items at a store, but from our home computers as well. E-cash for an e-economy.
With the rapid rise of cellphones, though, came a push for mobile commerce, or “m-commerce,” an effort that really began to pick up steam in the early 2000s when mobile payments were not just the realm of upstarts, but big players like Nokia (which would continue to push its own efforts throughout the decade). Our phones would be the one device we used for everything: they’d open doors, get us on a bus or subway, and let us pay for anything, anywhere. In many ways, that’s still the goal we’re working towards, and one that’s slowly starting to become a reality.