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Is it time to ditch the wallet?

These days, it’s possible to make payments directly from your smartphone, meaning that, increasingly, many folks are choosing to not even carry a wallet anymore. We discuss the pros, cons, and how you can make it happen.

There has been much talk about how Australia is on its way to becoming a cashless society. Whether that comes true in the distant or not-too-distant future remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: it’s certainly possible to become a cashless individual.

Credit cards, EFTPOS machines and online banking have been a part of our payment lives, to varying extents, for decades now. But the most recent development in the world of payments – digital wallets – combines all of the above.

We’ll discuss how to set up your digital wallet in more detail below, but at its most basic, a digital wallet involves attaching your credit card details to an app that allows you to make tap-and-go payments with your smartphone.


  • Speed. Mobile payments from your digital wallet are very fast. All you have to do is open the app and authenticate with either a passcode or Face ID; tap your smartphone at the payment terminal; wait for the transaction to clear, and you’re on your way.
  • Lighter pockets. Since everything is stored digitally on your phone, you don’t have to carry cash or credit cards in your pocket anymore. If you’re not using your wallet for anything else, you may be able to ditch the wallet completely.
  • Security. If you lose cash, it can obviously be picked up by anyone and used without question. Even lost credit cards can be used by strangers to make payments without your authorisation, though you’ll usually have some recourse with your bank to chase down the transactions. With a digital wallet, however, a passcode or Face ID is required to authenticate, so no one else can use your phone to make payments.
  • Notifications. When a transaction is made via digital wallet, your phone sends a notification confirming the payment. This removes any concern that you've been charged too much, or have been charged twice.


  • Acceptance. Simply put, mobile payments aren’t accepted everywhere yet. Even the ones that do may not necessarily accept all of them. In fact, there are still many stores out there that still only accept cash, or perhaps only accept cash above a certain amount. And we’re only talking about Australia here, too – if (in the future when international travel returns), you go travelling to less developed countries, you may run into even more trouble.
  • Privacy. Much like with credit cards, every transaction you make with your smartphone leaves a digital trail. While this is very much part of life in 2021, some people do still have concerns about privacy and prefer the relative anonymity of cash payments.
  • Support. If you own a recent Apple or Android smartphone, you shouldn’t have any problem setting up a digital wallet. If, however, you still use an older smartphone – or don’t own a smartphone at all – then digital wallets may not be supported.
  • Battery. This one might sound obvious, but it’s worth keeping in mind. Smartphone batteries can die – and if your battery dies, then you certainly won’t be able to make a payment with your smartphone.

How to set up and use your digital wallet

For iPhone users:

  1. Open your iPhone and go to the Wallet app. You may be asked to sign in with your Apple ID.
  2. To add a new card, position your iPhone so that your card appears in the frame, or enter the card details manually.
  3. Once the card is added, you can pay by double clicking the side button on your iPhone.
  4. Glance at your phone to authenticate with Face ID, or enter your passcode.
  5. Hold the top of your iPhone near the contactless reader until you see Done and a tick on your display.

For Android users:

  1. Make sure your phone’s Android version is Lollipop (5.0) or higher.
  2. Download the Google Pay app.
  3. Open Google Pay and, when you’re asked, add a card.
  4. You may be asked to set up a screen lock on your Android device. Google Pay works with PIN, pattern, password, fingerprint, or retinae scanning screen locks. It won’t work with facial recognition or screen locks like Smart Unlock or Knock to Unlock.
  5. Follow the instructions to verify your payment method.
  6. Once the card is added, you can pay by turning on your phone screen and unlocking your phone. You don’t need to open the Google Pay app.
  7. Hold the back of your phone close to the payment reader for a few seconds. When you’re done, a blue tick will appear on the screen.