NXT-ID, a biometric authentication company, is rolling out a new product it believes will replace the traditional wallet, while significantly reducing the threat of identity theft.
The product is Wocket Wallet, a slender wallet with a small space for your drivers license and picture of your kids and an electronic device that stores all your credit cards.
The company has begun taking orders for Wocket Wallet and this week began airing a commercial for it on cable network CNBC.
It's an intriguing idea. The stored data is only accessible by the owner through a combination of biometrics, personal PIN or pattern. Once the device verifies your identity, you use the touch screen display to select whatever soft-card or information you want. In some configurations, the device will respond to your voice commands.
What it stores
The company says the Wocket will store credit, debit, ATM, loyalty, gift, ID, membership, insurance, ticket, emergency, medical, business, contacts, coupon, and virtually any other card that currently makes your wallet as thick as a phone book.
At $149.99, it's considerably more expensive than any wallet you've ever owned, unless you tend to shop at luxury retailers.
It stores all payment cards and other dynamic stripe cards by swiping them directly into the device during the initial set-up process. Bar codes and text, such as voter registration, loyalty and/or membership cards, may all be scanned or entered into the device as well.
Once stored, all information is encrypted by the owner’s personal biometric stamp and can be accessed via a low power touch screen or optionally, a voice command. But how do you actually buy something with it?
It took a little digging through the promotional material to find out. Pictures of the Wocket show it as a device too thick to slide through a card reader.
But it doesn't have to. The Wocket is actually two parts – the device that stores all the data and a plastic card that temporarily receives the chosen card's data for a single transaction. This brief video clip illustrates the process.
The process might require a bit of getting used to. Selecting a card electronically requires a few more steps than simply reaching into your wallet and pulling out a card.
But NXT-ID is pointing to the trade-offs. Users don't have to dig through all those cards whenever they buy something. And the information on the cards is secure. If lost or stolen, it can't be used by someone else.
Because it's an electronic device, you'll have to recharge the Wocket Wallet – something you obviously don't have to do with your old fashioned wallet. And when using two cards back to back – a loyalty card and credit card, for example, it's a two step process.
There are other digital wallets and digital wallet apps for your smartphone. Google Wallet, for example, was released in 2011, providing a way for users to store cards on their phones. However, it requires a PayPass terminal to make a purchase.
Soundview Technology Group, a technology-focused investment banking firm, issued a favorable report on the Wocket at the end of June, based on observing consumer interaction with the product at a launch event in New York.
“All the feedback we received from attending suggests that consumers who get a chance to see and understand it, immediately want one,” the firm said in a release.