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I’m 23 and refuse to use my phone’s mobile wallet

Sienna Kossman

I’m a tech-savvy millennial who won’t use a mobile wallet.

I’ve owned a smartphone for years, use digital devices to monitor my health and workout statistics and instead of paying for cable TV I stream movies and shows basically for free. On the road, I’m not even sure what I would do without turn-by-turn navigation.

However, even though a FICO survey released in January revealed that millennials are more likely to use mobile wallets than other age groups, I’m perfectly happy swiping my old-fashioned plastic cards. Approximately 32 percent of people in my generation may begin using a mobile wallet by the end of the year, but not me.

I'm 23 and refuse to use my phone's mobile wallet

Here are three reasons why:

1. I don’t really trust mobile applications.

Some claim mobile wallets are more secure than traditional credit cards because the digital platforms encrypt payment information through tokenization after a card is uploaded, mimicking chip-card technology. However, I’m wary of mobile phone applications in general.

After conducting a survey of some of the more popular mobile shopping apps for a story for CreditCards.com, I discovered that these apps have access to more of my personal information than they probably need. As a result, I’ve deleted many apps off my phone and avoid conducting online transactions through my smartphone if possible. I don’t want to put more of my sensitive information out into cyberspace than I already have.

I’m not the only one leery about mobile wallet security, either. According to a report from ChangeWave Research, 84 percent of surveyed consumers are concerned about the secure storage of financial information through mobile wallets.

Until I can see firm data that the mobile wallets currently on the market can store payment card data and personal information securely, I’m going to stick with plastic. At least when I swipe my card, I’m controlling when I hand my information over to a retailer instead of uploading it to a digital cloud and hoping it stays there, unmolested.

2. There aren’t many additional perks.

The only mobile payment tool I’ve ever used is the Starbucks app, which acts like a reloadable digital gift card. I’ve been using it for a couple years because every time you make a purchase using the mobile card you earn rewards, access weekly specials and even get coupons for ground coffee.

As a budget-conscious coupon lover, the app is a perfect way to get rewarded for the occasional coffee purchase I was going to make anyway. I’m one of those people who actually uses those little reward cards on my key ring and clips coupons from weekly mailers that are stuffed into my mailbox each week.

Right now, mobile wallets don’t offer many additional features such as retailer reward program compatibility. Google Wallet and Apple Pay may allow you to upload some loyalty cards to your wallet for scanning in store, but the wallets themselves cannot yet keep track of earned rewards or help users earn additional discounts, as the Starbucks app does.

Adding additional reward program features may attract more people to use mobile wallets, according to a number of experts. Last March, before Apple Pay was released, a Federal Reserve Board’s Division of Consumer and Community affairs report claimed that “tying [loyalty] services to a mobile payment service would increase the attractiveness of mobile phones as a means of payment.”

I agree. If I use a mobile wallet to pay but then have to fumble through my wallet or key chain to locate my rewards card, what’s the point of pulling out the mobile phone in the first place? It just seems like an extra step, which brings me to my final point:

3. Mobile wallets just aren’t convenient yet.

When I put gas in my car, I pay at the pump with a credit card swipe. I pay more than 90 percent of my bills online where no swiping or dipping or scanning is needed. When I eat out, it’s usually at a sit-down restaurant where it just makes more sense to hand the server cash or a card.

Overall, there are only a handful of instances each week when pulling out my smartphone to make a payment instead of a plastic card or cash would make sense — or would even be possible.

When Apple Pay launched last fall, it had established partnerships at many big-name retailers that agreed to support the payment option. Google Wallet (my only mobile wallet option) has been around for a couple years now and isn’t as widely accepted — especially now after some retailers broke away to support their own version of mobile wallets late last year.

Even if I’m somewhere that does accept Google Wallet payments, it takes me less than 10 seconds to pull out a plastic card and swipe it. Odds are it would actually take me longer to locate my phone at the bottom of my messy purse than to pull out my bigger wallet.

I like the idea of having all our payment cards (and maybe even loyalty cards) securely in one place, but I just don’t think mobile wallets are there quite yet. Until retailers more widely accept the platforms, and the wallets are confirmed as more secure and rewarding, I’m going to keep it old school with plastic cards and cash.

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