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This year, both Google and Apple embraced the concept of Electronic Wallets in an attempt to try to use technology to solve a problem that didn't really need solving: Money and Credit cards.
In theory, Near-Field Computing and Electronic wallets are nifty ideas -- instead of pulling out your wallet and cash or credit cards to pay for something, you pull out your smartphone or other mobile device, and the vendor/merchant uses a scanner (barcode or NFC) to deduct payments from your credit card or loyalty program of choice.
So far, Google Wallet, which has been out for almost a year has been a dud, as has been Apple's Passbook which was recently introduced in iOS6. Few apps have been optimized to take advantage of these new payment systems and NFC infrastructure at the majority of brick and mortar merchants is severely lacking. Apple's iPhone 5 completely lacks NFC hardware, so it had to use barcodes instead.
While there is some hope on the horizon for NFC payments on Android phones with the recently announced ISIS alliance between wireless carriers, the new electronic wallet app is only useable in Salt Lake City and Austin so far, in limited locations.