Times are changing. Fast. Getting accustomed to new ways of living often exerts much more energy from us than we would prefer it to. Everything is growing smarter each day and unapologetically governs us to stay in the know in order not to lose touch with the ways of the modern world. Laptops, mobile phones, TVs, kitchen appliances, we are all used to them being very gadgety and smart. But what about our wallets? Granted, we will inevitably come to a point in time when traditional wallets will be rendered completely obsolete, but what awaits us in the foreseeable future? Will the classic bi-fold get dethroned? Will we be swirling in a whirlpool smart wallets and slim wallets?
To your surprise, the future has already arrived and it is much geekier than you could have ever imagined it being. I am, of course, referring to smart wallets. Until cryptocurrencies take over the monetary world, smart wallets will keep on emerging, and from the looks of it, they are adamant about staying for a while.
What Are You Smart Wallet?
First and foremost, it is important to point out that the smart wallet market is not very vast. Actually, only a few truly smart wallets have hit the scene in recent years, whilst some have still remained in the domain of prototypes. Nonetheless, the promises that they make are aimed towards uplifting the security and practicality of the whole product category.
Even though most people expect smart wallets to look like some gadgets from sci-fi movies, the majority of available models are actually very traditionally designed. Well, you might ask, why are they called smart wallets then? What is so smart about them? Do they come with touch-screen displays?
Let us take things one step at a time without rushing to any premature conclusions. Since we still use credit cards and cash to pay for products and services, there is still no need to completely redefine the typical design of a wallet. Smart wallets would be of no real use to us if they did not come with money pouches or credit cards slots. Remember, we are not dealing with digital cryptocurrency wallets here. Precisely because of these simple facts, both the exterior and interior of most smart wallets look almost no different from the classic men’s designer wallet you probably have in your pocket.
So, in case you were worried that you will have to give up on elegance and class in order to stay in touch with the current trends, you are free to take a breather. As you will be able to see as we progress through this article, smart wallets do not compromise looks nor spaciousness for the sake of smarts. Much like the Kore Essentials Slim Wallet. Not only does it provide enough real estate for all of your credit cards and cash but RFID protection as well.
As you have probably figured, the uprise of smart wallets has been governed by an omnipresent need for improved security of these most essential of accessories. Thus, most features that you will find to be pretty gadgety are going to be related to this specific aspect. So, if you expected music players, GPS navigation, or other smart functions like these, how dare you?
To Be or RFID?
Primarily, most smart wallets come with RFID blocking. Now, why is that important, you may ask. Well, I will explain it to you in a second. Hold your horses, will you? Geez. All jokes aside, we are dealing with a serious threat here. Did you know that some of your credit cards are implanted with RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) chips? These are installed in order for you to be able to perform contactless payments. However, these RFID chips rely on radio waves for communication purposes. Meaning that the chips carry electromagnetic fields which allow savvy thieves to easily read your card information without ever physically interacting with you or your cards. Scary is it not? If you are interested in finding out more about RFID blocking wallets, check out this great article.
I can almost hear the impatience in your voice. Is this the best smart wallets have to offer? RFID blocking! Even my minimalist wallet has RFID blocking. I know. One step at a time, remember? RFID is the most basic form of security and no matter how prevalent this feature may be among the wallets of all sorts, it is still a smart and necessary feature to have!
Lost and Found
So far, nothing too impressive, huh? Well, maybe this next feature will help elevate your impression about smart wallets. What is the biggest fear most of us have in regards to our wallets? Either losing them or someone stealing them from us, right? This next reason alone should be enough to help transform you into a smart wallet lover.
I know that you have probably heard about wallet trackers before. It is a small device that can be fitted inside your wallet and in case of a theft you are able to track its whereabouts at all times. Of course, you would have to download the tracking app to your smartphone first. You can check out the list of the best wallet trackers in 2018 here. However, there is a problem. Where would you hide the tracker? If you get pickpocketed, the thief would be able to easily find the tracking device and cover his trail by dumping it far away from his true location. That is basically how the story would unfold. Not very helpful, huh?
That is why nifty creators of smart wallets have found a way to seamlessly integrate very tiny trackers into the linings of their products. That way, even if they get stolen, the thieves would not be able to figure out if there is a tracker somewhere in there unless they rip the wallet apart. I guess that is pretty smart, would you not agree?
Oops… I Left It Behind
Come on, be honest. How many times have you left your wallet behind? How many times have bartenders yelled your name across the street? “You forgot your wallet!” If they were so kind to actually return it to you. Sure, I understand that it is not always your fault. Since we tend to carry our wallets in our back pockets, they can easily slip out while we are sitting down and occasionally squirming on the chair. That is where a credit card holder comes in handy, for example. It fits the front pocket.
Here is why these products of interest are called SMART wallets. Most of them come with proprietary apps which serve the purpose of connecting your smartphone to the wallet. Among other functions, these apps provide a very special safety feature which prevents you from leaving your wallet behind! The way it works is fairly simple. When you surpass the allowed distance threshold, your phone will instantly notify you that the wallet is out of your reach. To my reasoning at least, this feature among all others will give you an edge over the potential thieves lurking around.
However, do not think that is all. Since we are forgetful creatures by nature, not remembering where we have left our wallets around the house is a fairly common occurrence. But fear not for some smart wallets come with an option to give them a call. I know, it sounds very weird. Nonetheless, it is extremely helpful. God only knows how many countless hours we have all lost on nerve wrecking wallet searches. If you have a smart wallet, you just ring it up and it automatically transpires its position. Well done, guys. That is a nice feature!
Oh, no… There is More?
Sure, there are plenty more smart features worth mentioning. Of course, not all smart wallets are equipped with them, but I am just trying to give you an idea of what the capabilities of these items are and how these capabilities could be beneficial to you.
I am glad you have mentioned it! That is, after all, a reasonable question to ask. Since these items are equipped with electronic systems which allow them to be smart, something has to power them, right? You have guessed it, smart wallets come with batteries. However, they are always very inconspicuously installed so that they do not affect the overall bulkiness of the wallet. Now, how you would go about recharging them depends on the particular model of the wallet. Some are fitted with rechargeable batteries, whereas some do not offer such convenience. Nonetheless, those models which are fitted with rechargeable batteries often provide wireless charging! Admit it. That is the pinnacle of practicality.
Ha! I just tricked you right there. That is not the pinnacle of practicality. Some smart wallets out there are actually solar powered and in regards to eco-friendliness and practicality, those are the true champs, right? I mean, phone case wallets are all fine and dandy, but would you really choose them over a smart wallet? I did not think so.
Missing Credit Cards?
If I had to choose a smart wallet feature which genuinely blew my mind when I first came across it, it would have to be this one. One particular smart wallet on the market is equipped with a brilliant monitoring system which measures how long a particular credit card has been out of its designated socket. In case the slot has been empty way too long, the wallet will send a notification to your smartphone saying that the card is missing. HOW COOL IS THAT? No matter how cool you are Pitaka Magwallet, you cannot beat this.
Okay. Let us sum up what we have learned so far about smart wallets. They are mostly designed to provide the same level of spaciousness and elegance as the traditional wallets. So, we have got that in the bag. Secondly, they are equipped with a plethora of security features which help reduce the day-to-day stress of losing or getting your wallet stolen. It may not sound like much but it is just enough to form a new crossover category of wallets. See, there is nothing to be apprehensive about.
Just Give Me a Reason
For the sake of clarity, let us briefly run through the 5 most important reasons why you should eventually make the transition to a smart wallet. Now, I am not into pushing you into believing that this type of accessory is perfect for you and “oh my God” we should all have them. No. If you are an outdoorsy tech-despising kind of person, then I am fine with you adhering to the likes of a Trayvax Element wallet. The sole purpose of this section is to objectively point-out and remind you what smart wallets can do for you.
You Lose Nothing
Often times, making a transition demands to settle for certain compromises. The problem is that there is a lot of us who are not all that happy about having to settle for them. Now, the beauty of smart wallets is that they do not require you to make any compromises. You get the same practical advantages of regular wallets and a ton of other improvements regarding security and ease-of-use.
You Can Never Leave Them Behind
With a smart wallet in your pocket, you will never have to worry about accidentally leaving it behind with little to no hope of ever seeing it again. The inconspicuous tiny tracker within the wallet and the tracking app in your smartphone will take care of this unpleasant scenario if it ever happens to occur. Meaning that you will be given just enough time to run back to the place where you have unwillingly dropped it of and outsmart or outrun the thieves.
You Can Find Them In a Heartbeat
Without having to break a sweat and spend a decent amount of your time on searching for the lost wallet, smart ones will allow you to ring them up and find them in no time. One less thing to worry about, no? Of course, the same principle applies vice versa. In case it is your phone whose whereabouts are unknown to you, the smart wallet will help you solve the mystery. Quick and easy.
Thieves Will Have a Hard Time Covering Their Tracks
Unlike the old-fashioned trackers you are able to buy and fit inside your wallet for security sake, smart wallets provide a tracking system which is far less easy to spot and dispose of. The only imaginable scenario in which the thief would be able to cover his tracks is the one where you are so unlucky to get a thief who is up-to-date and familiar with your smart wallet’s tracking equipment. Otherwise, the wallet would have to be completely dismantled in order to access the tracker within it.
Identity Theft? I Do Not Think So!
All smart wallets provide RFID blocking. Just in case some of your cards are fitted with RFID chips, the wallet has to be able to protect your identity from being exposed. You would not want to wake up one day knowing that somehow a massive chunk of your funds has evaporated from your bank account, would you? Smart wallets are all about advanced security and that is something you simply have to respect and support.
Coming to Fruition
I know I have talked too much without actually providing you with an example of how a smart wallet looks like. How all of the aforementioned features are integrated within something that looks like a regular old bi-fold wallet. Well, in order to help you visualize and get a grasp on what these brainy accessories look like and how they perform, I will present you with a few of the most successful smart wallets currently on the market. Without further ado, let us get cracking.
I will not make any remarks about its name. As you will see, for some strange reason, most smart wallets are extremely weirdly called. So, first impressions? Nothing special, right? Just another leather wallet.
Just pay attention to how the story unfolds with this one, okay? Apart from its pretty sophisticated leather construction (top-notch Italian leather), there is also an eco-friendly vegetable leather version of the Woolet. You get a cash pouch, coin pocket, and a few credit card compartments. Nothing less, nothing more.
What about the really interesting stuff? The electronics are all integrated inside the lining of the Woolet. Remember, only ripping it apart could help your thief access the tracking system. The battery is a rechargeable one, so we have to give them props for that. Moreover, the battery can be charged with any old wireless pad. Just place the Woolet on top of it, and voila. The charging will commence.
Surely enough, the Woolet comes with its proprietary app compatible both with Android and iOS operating systems. If I am honest, it might be the most sophisticated app of them all. It allows you to call your Woolet, it notifies you when you leave it behind, it provides tracking and last seen location features, quiet zones (you can set your office as a quiet zone, meaning that no push notifications will bother you there), and many others.
Of course, Woolet’s lining is covered with an RFID-blocking material which helps keep your card information safe and secure at all times. The Woolet also comes with an anti-theft mechanism. When you set its alarm, even the slightest movement of the wallet will cause it to ring as well as send a push notification to your smartphone.
Instead of listing 20 different reasons why someone should buy a Woolet smart wallet, here is my opinion of it. It is incredible, simply because the guys at Woolet have managed to put all the latest wallet-related technology in it whilst keeping it very classy-looking thus making it perfect for day-to-day carry. You get the best of both worlds. I think that is an applaudable feat.
Here is a smart wallet almost as spacious as the Exentri trifold wallet. Again, let us not mess with its name. Even though I have a feeling that the late great Muhammad Ali would have loved it. Get it? Walli-Ali? You are no fun.
Once again we can see a smart wallet looking nothing short of regular, but we have learned our lesson so far, therefore we will wait and see what it has in store for us.
Like the Woolet, Walli also comes with its designated app compatible both with Android and iOS operating systems. Also, like the Woolet, it allows you to track your wallet and notifies you when you leave it behind. However, double tapping the wallet can help track your smartphone if it is within 100-feet by sounding its alarm. Remember that feature? Oh yes, I was talking about the Walli.
Apart from being able to call your smartphone, there is a feature that I have previously mentioned the Walli takes most pride in. I am referring to the missing credit card feature. The Walli is always aware of what lies within it. In case one of your credit cards is not put back in place within a given time period, it will notify you through your smartphone.
RFID-blocking is also included, it is made from genuine leather, it is dust-proof, and sooner than later, we will see a new waterproof version on the market as well. However, the major drawback of the Walli is its battery. It is not a rechargeable one. Yes, it can last up to 6 months, but you will constantly have to replace it. That does not only take your time but your cash as well.
All in all, Walli is a great smart wallet. Like the Woolet, it truly does make a superb day-to-day carry accessory. With its amazing 6 card and 2 cash slots, it provides just enough compartments for all of your essentials, whilst being ridiculously smart. I will remind you one more time. It notifies you when you do not put your credit card back in its slot!
Lastly, we have the Ekster. This one has a weird name because it was designed by a bunch of Dutchmen. Ekster means “magpie”, which we all know is the thief among thieves in the bird world.
Like the previous two, the Eskter is also equipped with RFID-blocking and can be connected to your smartphone through the famous TrackR app. Meaning that you are able to both track your wallet at all times as well as ring your phone through it. Quite frankly, if it was not able to provide these functions, we would not be able to consider it a true smart wallet.
Regardless of all of this, what the people of Ekster are most proud of, is the card-launching mechanism with which this smart wallet is equipped. With a simple push of a button, all five of your most essential credit cards pop out in a staggered fashion, allowing you to easily access them. Great. Kudos for that.
However, the Ekster has two major flaws. The first one has to do with its tracking system. Since it uses the TrackR app, which is not a proprietary one, the Ekster does not come with a well hidden integrated tracking system, but a simple tracker which is fairly easy to access and remove. I can see the thieves among you grinning! The second drawback is related to its overall bulkiness. Even though it may look like a small wallet, in reality, it is quite voluminous. In modern times when everything is reducing in size, that is a big no-no.
If you are into phone case wallets like the Dreem iPhone wallet, Ekster sells those as well. Maybe they should stick with them.
What can I say? It looks nice, right? It is kind of smart as well. But it is incomparable to the previous two. More than any other, the Ekster is trying too hard to please both sides of the spectrum. It tries to stay as traditional as possible but wants a piece of that tech-cake as well. Not going to happen. I am sorry.
The Story Ends Here
When all is said and done, I think that it is hard not to be ambivalent toward smart wallets, would you not agree? Well, I would not agree. Got you one more time! No, really, no matter how geeky some of the technology behind these items may be, it truly represents a step in the right direction. There is no such thing as enough safety. Therefore, caring about improving it through each new generation of gadgets and devices should be met with nothing else but praise. I take my hat off to these brave inventive creators, what about you?