An E-Wallet Breakthrough

David Wagner, Managing Editor | 3/14/2012 | 6 comments

David Wagner
A lot of companies have pegged Near Field Communication or smart cards as the payment method of the future. However, many of those systems rely on expensive upgrades for the consumer or the retailer. And various platforms have made it difficult for consumers by requiring different apps, dongles, cards, or other doohickies. The startup iCache may have the perfect solution to the e-wallet problem -- one that doesn’t make anyone invest in new equipment or technology. That has to be music to any retail CIO’s ears.

The Geode, the new product from iCache, is a smartphone case (currently only for iPhones) that can act as an e-wallet. It comes with a small scanner that lets you swipe all your credit and loyalty cards. Once you have them set up, you can leave them behind.

An e-ink screen on the back of the case can display the barcode of your loyalty cards, so any store can scan the code as usual. Even more importantly, the Geode comes with a removable smart card that looks just like a credit card. You select the card you want to use with the Geode app, and the device temporarily programs the card with the information normally encoded on your credit card. You swipe the smart card as you would your credit card, and the technology already in place at the point of sale doesn’t know the difference.

The whole thing is secured with biometric scanners and in many ways is more secure than your usual wallet. If you lose your phone, someone finding it can’t use your credit cards, because the information is encrypted and protected by the biometrics -- unlike normal credit cards, which can often be used online or with lax security in retail stores.

If you can get by the annoying music, here is a good video about everything the Geode does. It does seem rather impressive, and it is very attractive.

From the point of view of retailers, especially their CIOs, this must seem like an ideal solution -- no new costs, no new infrastructure, no new platform war. But there are some issues to work out.

For one thing, as simple as the video makes it seem, I suspect a Geode transaction is slower than one with a wallet. If I want to buy a cup of coffee with my debit card, I just pull out the card. I don’t have to unlock my phone, open the apps, put my finger on a scanner, pick the debit card from the menu, and then slide a smart card out of the phone. Sure, some hipsters could do that and still text about where they’re going on Saturday night before anyone was bothered. But eventually, we want an e-wallet solution that works for everyone. Anyone who has ever been behind a person counting out pennies for exact change or writing a paper check knows how that’s going down.

Another issue is that, even though iCache says the Geode is universally accepted (because it is essentially the same thing as a credit card), don’t bet on it. When this thing comes out in the second quarter, how many retailers will let you use it the same way as your card? I’m often asked to show the clerk my card for a $5 purchase. Imagine if, instead of a card with a Visa or MasterCard logo on it, I showed her this black thing I whipped out of my phone? Granted, with some training, clerks could get used to the Geode. But it will require new procedures, and retailers will have to be convinced that this is as safe as normal cards or safer.

Price is also an issue. With the e-ink display and the scanner, this is going to cost more than your usual smartphone case. And it may be fragile. How many broken e-ink displays do you want to have fixed for your e-wallet? There is no information yet on the potential cost, but I suspect the Geode isn’t going to be super cheap.

These issues can be overcome. The general idea of looking for a way to use current infrastructure is really smart. I think this or something similar could be the future of the e-wallet. The smart retail CIO will work with iCache and companies with similar ideas to make this happen. It will save a lot of trouble and cost.

What do you think? Would you want a Geode? Is this the way retail should go with e-wallets?

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
vnewman   An E-Wallet Breakthrough   3/16/2012 4:59:45 PM
Re: Great Idea for the guys !
It sounds like a great idea, but it seems like the implementation would be slow on the uptake and you would still need to carry your wallet and cards around as a backup for a long time to come.
David Wagner   An E-Wallet Breakthrough   3/16/2012 3:01:40 PM
Re: Great Idea for the guys !
Depending on how it is lost, you shouldnt even have to replace it using this service. If you lose your phone, no one can use your cards or get your data without your finger print. Granted, biometrics can be faked, but the average petty criminal isn't going to mess with that.

I guess to be safe, you'd still prbably want new numbers, but at least you aren't going to have to go through the business of getitng your money back for tons of fraudulent charges before they get you new cards.
Nicky48   An E-Wallet Breakthrough   3/16/2012 2:55:10 PM
Re: Great Idea for the guys !
Yes, my son also likes to have a variety of jackets - I think mainly for the pockets, so he can carry his stuff.

I wonder if it will also be easier to 'replace' a credit card if it is 'stolen' or used fraudulently.


David Wagner   An E-Wallet Breakthrough   3/16/2012 2:45:57 PM
Re: Great Idea for the guys !
Oh, and the driver's license is a great idea though I suspect after 9/11 something like that will be a long way away from happening.
David Wagner   An E-Wallet Breakthrough   3/16/2012 2:45:11 PM
Re: Great Idea for the guys !
@Nicky48- It is interesting. I've noticed I've started wearing jackets or carrying backpacks and bags more often since getting a smartphone. The phone doesn't feel safe or comfortable in my front pants pocket.

I question whether getting rid of my wallet is that big a deal. But many people insist this is a major issue in mobile computing.

Nicky48   An E-Wallet Breakthrough   3/16/2012 2:37:28 PM
Great Idea for the guys !
As women we tend to carry our phones, credit cards and keys in or purses/handbags so this might not appeal as much.

However I know that most guys , basing this on what my son does, grab their keys , phone and wallet and stuff them as best as possible into their pockets. If they don't have enough pockets they simply hold on to them. So eliminating the wallet would seem like a great idea.

I wonder if this will also hold your driver's license and if this will be acceptable to law enforcement?

The blogs and comments posted on do not reflect the views of TechWeb,, or its sponsors., TechWeb, and its sponsors do not assume responsibility for any comments, claims, or opinions made by authors and bloggers. They are no substitute for your own research and should not be relied upon for trading or any other purpose.

More Blogs from David Wagner
David Wagner   5/30/2014   21 comments
For almost three and a half years I have had the pleasure and real privilege to write the Geekend for you every Friday. Fortunately, that privilege isn't ending, it is just moving to our ...
David Wagner   5/23/2014   69 comments
Most of us have gone through the pain of losing a beloved pet. Maybe you lived a long and happy life together, and it died peacefully. Maybe it was tragically struck down by a car or a ...
David Wagner   5/22/2014   47 comments
It is a rare thing when you find me advocating for the government to get more involved in regulating technology, but when it comes to the Internet of Things, that is what I'm advocating. ...
David Wagner   5/21/2014   13 comments
E2 has long trumpeted the days when 3D printers would sit on our desks and print prototypes, consumer goods, and even body parts right from our desk, but a new cloud manufacturing company ...
David Wagner   5/16/2014   40 comments
With Disney's success with the Avengers franchise, geeks everywhere are being treated to an outrageously large number of TV shows and movies based on comic book superhero characters. For ...
Latest Archived Broadcast
We talk with Bernard Golden about accelerating application delivery in the cloud.
On-demand Video with Chat
Register for this video discussion to learn how tablets can provide true business usability and productivity.
E2 IT Migration Zones
IT Migration Zone - UK
Why PowerShell Is Important
Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI
Rethinking Storage Management
IT Migration Zone - FR
SQL Server : 240 To de mémoire flash pour votre data warehouse
Quand Office vient booster les revenus Cloud et Android de Microsoft
Windows Phone : Nokia veut davantage d'applications (et les utilisateurs aussi)
IT Migration Zone - DE
Cloud Computing: Warum Unternehmen trotz NSA auf die „private“ Wolke setzen sollten
Cloud Computing bleibt Wachstumsmarkt – Windows Azure ist Vorreiter
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Enterprise Efficiency Twitter Feed
Site Moderators Wanted
Enterprise Efficiency is looking for engaged readers to moderate the message boards on this site. Engage in high-IQ conversations with IT industry leaders; earn kudos and perks. Interested? E-mail:
Dell's Efficiency Modeling Tool
The major problem facing the CIO is how to measure the effectiveness of the IT department. Learn how Dell’s Efficiency Modeling Tool gives the CIO two clear, powerful numbers: Efficiency Quotient and Impact Quotient. These numbers can be transforma¬tive not only to the department, but to the entire enterprise.

Read the full report
The State of Enterprise Efficiency in the Virtual Era: Virtualization – Smart Approaches to Maximize Gains
Virtualization is a presence in nearly all enterprise data centers. But not all companies are using it to its best effect. Learn the common characteristics of success, what barriers companies face, and how to get the most from your efforts.

Read the full report
Informed CIO: Dollars & Sense: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
Cut through the VDI hype and get the full picture -- including ROI and the impact on your Data Center -- to make an informed decision about your virtual desktop infrastructure deployments.

Read the full report
A Video Case Study – Translational Genomics Research Institute
e2 Video

On the Case
TGen IT: Where We're Going Next

7|11|12   |   08:12   |   10 comments

Now that TGen has broken new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions, the company discusses what will come next for it and for personalized medicine.
On the Case
Better Care Through Better Communications

6|6|12   |   02:24   |   11 comments

The achievements of the TGen/Dell project could improve how all people receive healthcare, because they are creating ways to improve end-to-end communication of medical data.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Are Now

5|15|12   |   06:58   |   6 comments

TGen is breaking new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Were

4|27|12   |   06:45   |   10 comments

The Translational Genomics Research Institute wanted to save lives, but its efforts were hobbled by immense computing challenges related to collecting, processing, sharing, and storing enormous amounts of data.
On the Case
1,200% Faster

4|18|12   |   02:27   |   12 comments

Through their partnership, Dell and TGen have increased the speed of TGen’s medical research by 1,200 percent.
On the Case
IT May Improve Children's Chances of Survival

4|17|12   |   02:12   |   8 comments

IT is helping medical researchers reach breakthroughs in a way and pace never seen before.
On the Case
Medical Advances in the Cloud

4|10|12   |   1:25   |   5 comments

TGen and Dell are pushing the boundaries of computing, and harnessing the power of the cloud to improve healthcare.
On the Case
TGen: Living the Mission

4|9|12   |   2:25   |   3 comments

TGen's CIO puts the organizational mission at the heart of everything the IT staff does.
On the Case
TGen Speeding Up Biomedical Research to Save More Lives

4|5|12   |   1:59   |   6 comments

The Translational Genomics Research Institute is revamping its computing to improve speed, storage, and collaboration – and, most importantly, to save lives.
On the Case
Computing Power Helping to Save Children's Lives

3|28|12   |   2:13   |   3 comments

The Translational Genomics Institute’s partnership with Dell is enabling them to treat kids with neuroblastoma more quickly and save more lives.
Tom Nolle
The Big Reason to Use Office

3|18|14   |   02:24   |   46 comments

Office and personal productivity tools come in a first-class and coach flavor set, but what makes the difference is primarily little things that most users won't encounter. What's the big issue in using something other than Office, and can you get around it?
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Mobile Security — A Use Case

3|4|14   |   04:27   |   16 comments

New mobile security solutions can accommodate a wide array of needs, including those of a complex university environment.
Tom Nolle
Killing Net Neutrality Might Save You Money

1|16|14   |   2:13   |   16 comments

The DC Court of Appeals voided most of the Neutrality Order, and whatever it might mean for the Internet overall, it might mean better and cheaper Internet VPNs for businesses.
Tom Nolle
The Internet of Everythinguseful

1|10|14   |   2:18   |   19 comments

We really don't want an "Internet of Everything" but even building an Internet of Everythinguseful means setting some ground rules to insure there's value in the process and that costs and risks are minimized.
Tom Nolle
Maturing Google Chrome

12|30|13   |   2.18   |   25 comments

Google's Chrome OS has a lot of potential value and a lot of recent press, but it still needs something to make it more than a thin client. It needs cloud integration, it needs extended APIs via web services, and it needs to suck it up and support a hard drive.
Sara Peters
No More Cookie-Cutter IT

12|23|13   |   03.58   |   21 comments

Creating the right combination of technology, people, and processes for your IT organization is a lot like baking Christmas cookies.
Sara Peters
Smart Wigs Not a Smart Idea

12|5|13   |   3:01   |   46 comments

Sony is seeking a patent for wigs that contain computing devices.
Tom Nolle
Cloud in the Wild

12|4|13   |   02:23   |   15 comments

On a recent African trip I saw examples of the value of the cloud in developing nations, for educational and community development programs. We could build on this, but not only in developing economies, because these same programs are often under-supported even in first-world countries.
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Is Malware Evading Your IPS?

11|18|13   |   03:16   |   4 comments

Intrusion prevention software is supposed to detect and block malware intrusions, but clever malware authors can evade your IPS in these five main ways.
Sara Peters
Where Have All the Mentors Gone?

9|27|13   |   3:15   |   38 comments

A good professional mentor can change your life for the better... but where do you find one?
Tom Nolle
SDN Wars & You Could Win

9|17|13   |   2:10   |   5 comments

VMware's debate with Cisco on SDN might finally create a fusion between an SDN view that's all about software and another that's all about network equipment. That would be good for every enterprise considering the cloud and SDN.
Ivan Schneider
The Future of the Smart Watch

9|12|13   |   3:19   |   39 comments

Wearing a bulky, oversized watch is good training for the next phase in wristwatches: the Internet-enabled, connected watch. Why the smartphone-tethered connected watch makes sense, plus Ivan demos an entirely new concept for the "smart watch."
Tom Nolle
Cutting Your Cloud Storage Costs

9|4|13   |   2:06   |   3 comments

Cloud storage costs are determined primarily by the rate at which files are changed and the possibility of concurrent access/update. If you can structure your storage use to optimize these factors you can cut costs, perhaps to zero.
Sara Peters
Do CIOs Need an IT Background?

8|29|13   |   2:11   |   23 comments

Most of the CIOs interviewed in the How to Become a CIO series did not start their careers as IT professionals. So is an IT background essential?
Ivan Schneider
The Internet Loves Birthdays

8|27|13   |   3:25   |   69 comments

The Internet has evolved into a machine for drumming up a chorus of "Happy Birthday" messages, from family, friends, friends of friends who you added on Facebook, random people that you circled on G+, and increasingly, automated bots. Enough already.