Token: A Wallet on Your Wrist

Token: A Wallet on Your Wrist

Our innovation program, Startefact, is our experimentation playpen. Token is the first in a series of Startefact ideas that explore the adjacent possible. To accelerate your own innovation efforts, join the beta of Project Helium, the tool we are building to help teams get from ideas to decisions, faster and with more confidence.

Have you ever lost your wallet and worried about whether someone went to town with your ID, money and bank information? How often do you get a replacement credit card, because the security of one of the merchants you shopped “may have been compromised”? Don’t you wish the voice of reason took over when a new bike or a pair of shoes beckoned you from the store window? And how about the weekly “Mom, can I have some cash?” that turns your sulky teenager back into a pleasant person, only to disappoint her with a cashless wallet?

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That is what one of Artefact designers was pondering when he imagined Token, a next generation payment device that helps you be a smarter consumer. How? Take a look…

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A new type of payment security

Token is a wearable bracelet connected to select payment accounts – from checking and savings, to credit cards, digital currencies, and PayPal account. Unlike a credit card, it features a security mechanism based on three unique aspects of its owner—something she is (a unique biometric like a thumb print or your heart bear), something she knows (a PIN or password) and something she owns (the device itself). Unlike a credit card, it becomes useless when lost or stolen as only your print (or pin) can authorize it.

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Easy transactions, new services

Token is contextually aware of a merchant’s wi-fi and can receive product information and transmit payment details with the touch of a finger. It can make personalized offers not only easy to receive, but simple to take advantage of. You do not need to swipe a card or search for the app buried on your iPhone. And since it is directly connected to your bank, you can easily lend money to a friend, or safely give your kids their weekly allowance.

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Beyond smart payments – smart consumer behavior

Insights from behavioral economics are unambiguous – when we are shown the negative outcomes of our choices, we are more likely to make the right decision. That is why swiping your credit card for that pair of shoes that you cannot really afford is much easier than paying for them with cash. So what if you could see how this purchase will impact your budget right before you pay? A device like Token could minimize impulse purchases, helping you plan your finances better and stay within budget.

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Did I take my wallet Token?

Personalized visualizations, a familiar form factor and convenience are just a few of the advantages of a system like Token. Once you start thinking outside of the traditional wallet, the possibilities for new services, experiences and scenarios are endless…

  • For consumers, combining Token with the richness of a smart phone or a Web experience means richer views and new insights about spending patterns and behaviors. The seamless experience with Token can make tedious ATM withdrawals a thing of the past. So is lending “money” to a friend (or asking to borrow some).
  • For merchants or any organization that collects payment, Token not only eliminates the need for ID verification, but opens a wide range of new opportunities. What if your Token used data from your shopping list to guide you through the grocery store? And what if the grocery store surfaced personalized, location based offers before you bought the next stack of diapers rather than after that?
  • As for financial institutions, a secure payment system like Token can save them billions of dollars in fraud prevention, detection and resolution. The price tag for the recent Target fiasco is still being calculated, but the cost to banks for reissuing cards has reached $200 million.


A Bridge between Wearables and the Internet of Things

A lot has been written and said about wearables. But just because they are on our bodies and can really help us understand ourselves, we should not limit their applications to health, wellness and the Quantified Self. Wearables could provide us with new, easier and better ways to interact with our environment, the products and services we are using and the people we are connected to. The unique security mechanism that we incorporated in Token –something I have, something I am, something I know, opens a range of possibilities for exciting new experiences across industries and services.

After all, didn’t the mobile internet take off when the smart phone made the leap a productivity device to a content, communication and a creativity device?