atmwallet-and-keys-640.jpg__640x360_q85_crop_subsampling-2By Richard Buckle for

With our home up for sale, my wife, Margo, has been thinking about where to move next. For nearly two decades we have lived in Boulder County on an estate with very little contact with our neighbors; do we do something similar or do we move to the city?

I am favoring the purchase of a loft right now; something in the heart of Denver, perhaps.

Among the considerations of late has been whether we would want a loft with a modern door lock. Should we go for a cardkey entry system or even a system engaged via mobile phone, and do away with the front door key?

Like many of my fellow Americans, I carry around a lot of keys. Some of these are quite bulky — particularly modern car keys with as much functionality as my first laptop — so I am leaving home more often with fewer than the prescribed number of keys.

Having access to anything, anywhere through my mobile phone is an idea worth considering. As Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell told the House Judiciary while arguing against creating a back door to allow access by law enforcement to the iPhone of the San Bernadino mass shooter Syed Farook, “There is more information for a thief to steal in your iPhone than there is in your house.”

So perhaps there isn’t all that much left that would warrant locking up my next residence, loft or otherwise.

My wife would have a completely different view on this topic. “There’s been someone in my loft,” isn’t a cry I want to hear any time soon.

Another case for greater reliance on mobile phones is the driver’s license. My new one arrived while I was at the ATMIA US Conference 2016 in New Orleans; it’s good until 2026, however, according to the March 7 issue of Time magazine, all cars will be self-driving by then.

“One way or another you will be taxed for driving the old fashioned way,” the Time article said. “The cycle could feed on itself until drivers licenses are a rare credential, like Latin professorships or tugboat captaincies.”

So, having my driver’s license on my mobile phone may come at a time when I no longer need one at all.

But what of ATM cards – will they take a similar path?

On the program welcome page for the ATMIA US Conference 2016, ATM Industry Association Executive Director David Tente wrote about this year’s theme, “Connecting consumers and their money to the ATM.”

Tente said that this was a timely message as “the concept of money is undergoing fundamental changes, many of which will facilitate easier access to all forms of money through the ATM.”

Tente made reference to digital currency as just one example of the changing concept of money. “Virtual currencies like Bitcoin are slowly creeping toward mainstream acceptance,” he wrote.

So, my wallet will soon be missing a card key for loft entry, a driver’s license, perhaps an ATM card — and wow! — even cash? Maybe it’s time to short the leather wallet market.

Then again, as attendees at the conference heard, wallets in general are hanging on. During an ATM Future Town Hall Meeting, panelists said that cash not going away, and pointed to the dismal uptake of virtual wallets.

Surprisingly, well at least to me, only 2 percent of new iPhone buyers have availed themselves of the Apple Pay option. Even among adopters, overall use numbers weren’t all that exciting. And with Apple garnishing only 15 basis points (i.e., $0.015) per transaction, Apple Pay users would have to spend approximately $6,700 through the wallet in order for Apple to make just $10 per user, per year.

And no, Android Pay and Samsung Pay aren’t doing any better when it comes to virtual wallets.

During the meeting, Tom Harper, President and CEO of Networld Media Group, publisher of ATM Marketplace and Mobile Payments Today, observed that “every year for the past five years has been the year of mobile payments, but it’s been slow [progress].”

Harper said that the low use numbers for virtual wallets can be traced to the fact that there’s no “perceived advantage to move to mobile phones and away from cash — there’s not the need.”

For much of the world’s population, cash still dominates, so having a real wallet seems most appropriate — even if access to cash withdrawal is via a mobile phone.

But relying solely on a mobile phone, much like relying solely on driverless cars, might be shortsighted.

Keys to our car, to our home and to our money might shift in style and mechanics but we will need them for quite a while.

And with that, I am heading to the garage — keys in hand — to drive to yet another loft showing!

photo istock

No more cash, cards or keys? Shut the front door!