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What your wallet


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What your wallet

  1. 1. CHI 2005 | Late Breaking Results: Posters April 2-7 | Portland, Oregon, USA Whats in Your Wallet? Implications for Global E-Wallet Design Scott D. Mainwaring, Ken Anderson, and Michele F. Chang People and Practices Research Lab, Intel Research 2111 NE 25th Ave., MS JF3-377, Hillsboro, OR 97124, USA {scott.mainwaring,ken.anderson,michele.f.chang}@intel.comABSTRACT As a step in this direction, we conducted an exploratoryAs part of a comparative ethnographic study of everyday ethnographic study of transactions in the daily life of younglife of young professionals in London, Los Angeles, and professionals in three disparate cities: London, LosTokyo, we conducted a detailed survey of wallets and their Angeles, and Tokyo. Data analysis for the overall study iscontents, through photographs, interviews, diary studies, ongoing, but we present here some initial findings around aand observation. Despite prominent differences in culture key artifact we examined cross-culturally: the wallet.and lifestyle, there were remarkable similarities across allthree sites in terms of what wallets contained and how they Wallets are practical containers of the cards, coins, and cashwere used. Individuals arrived at similar (if imperfect) that allow their bearers to get transactional work done. Assolutions to common problems of temptation management such, they have over the last decade often been referred toand access control, identity management and partitioning, when analogous functionalities within the digital realmand collecting tokens of affiliation and history. Our have been designed and discussed. These “electronicfindings suggest that future electronic wallets (e-wallets), wallets” or “e-wallets” (“electronic purses” in Europe) havewhether physical devices or distributed functionalities, will taken the form of software modules, portable devices, orbe able to capitalize on these existing patterns, solve some smart cards. Utilitarian technical concerns ofof the existing problems, and encounter new challenges. interoperability, efficiency, and security have dominated.Furthermore, they frame the potential value of e-wallets in a Wallets are also highly personal and symbolically-chargedbroader context than traditional concerns over privacy, vessels at the junction of the personal and the public. Theysecurity, and efficiency. are items of fashion, collectors of biographical residue, combinations of the personally chosen and theAuthor Keywords institutionally mandated. They are of methodologicalEthnography, mobility, urban computing, ubiquitous interest to the social scientist, the artist, and the culturalcomputing, e-wallets, globalization, user-centered design critic. They shed light on, and implicated in, the construction and use of identity, affiliation, and trust.ACM Classification KeywordsH5.m. Information interfaces and presentation (e.g., HCI): This paper seeks to reinforce and extend past work in bothMiscellaneous. these practical and symbolic areas. We begin by briefly surveying past work and outlining our methodology. WeINTRODUCTION then present major themes that emerged from ourCities can be viewed as complex collections of infra- fieldwork, around practices of temptation management andstructures to support diverse services, from transportation to access control, identity management and partitioning, andrecreation. Infrastructure access is controlled and provided collecting tokens of affiliation and history. We concludethrough an equally broad range of interfaces, from personal with implications of these themes for the e-wallet concept.interaction with an agent to mechanical transactions withvending machines. To live in a city is to continually PRIOR WORKinteract with these various interfaces, often seamlessly and A large literature has emerged on mobile workers [e.g.,almost unconsciously, sometimes troublesomely not. These 6,7], looking at what they carry and why. Our study seeksinterfaces are often highly technological, and on trajectories to extend this beyond the work domain per se, intoof rapid change. An emerging challenge for HCI is to everyday urban routines [see also 4, 10]. Our interestsbetter understand these everyday, dynamic, but under- parallel those of Nippert-Eng, who has illuminated thestudied contexts of use, and to design better interfaces for spaces and transitions between home and work [2], andurban life. more recently has used wallets and the stories and contradictions they evoke as one basis for new research on disclosure and concealment [Christena Nippert-Eng and Jay Melican, personal communication]. Copyright is held by the author/owner(s). CHI 2005, April 2–7, 2005, Portland, Oregon, USA. Another substantial literature concerns the technical ACM 1-59593-002-7/05/0004. requirements of e-wallets, e-cash, smart cards, etc. 1613
  2. 2. CHI 2005 | Late Breaking Results: Posters April 2-7 | Portland, Oregon, USAHowever, little of this research has focused on use of actualwallets and existing transactional practices from theconsumer’s perspective. Penz and colleagues [5] haveapplied social representation theory in a quantitative surveyof 264 Austrian users’ conceptions of cash vs. various non-cash payment methods. Issues of control and visibilityemerged from their data, as well as from our very differentdata set.Closest to our analysis is one by Cooper and colleagues [1],who used semi-structured interviews about the contents of55 UK adults’ wallets to inform the design of e-wallets aswearable technology. Our work expands considerably ontheir methodology, while being both narrower (in focusing Figure 1. A wallet of one of our Tokyo participants.on young professionals) and broader (international scope). FINDINGSOur approach was inspired in part by the Portable Effects One overall finding was that despite considerable individualproject of media researcher Rachael Strickland [9]. Like variation and obvious cultural differences across the threeher, we see our participants as designers of their everyday cities, wallets were for the most part a remarkable invariantnomadic practices, creatively balancing personal, cultural, (Figure 1 shows a typical example). All of our participantsand infrastructural constraints. carried at least one, either in a pocket or a bag. Wallet contents uniformly included cash, usually on the order ofSTUDY METHODS $100, replenished at cash machines (ATMs) multiple timesYoung professionals, aged 22 to 32, with an even split each week. Thus ATM cards were also ubiquitous, andbetween genders, were recruited through existing local were accompanied by an assortment of non-cash paymentacademic and professional contacts. Many were in the cards, whether debit or credit. These forms of moneydesign and media industries; freelancers were relatively formed the collective heart of the wallet, which (replicatingover-represented. As is common in ethnographic work, we [1]) was regarded as an essentially financial artifact.selected the sample for theoretical interest and for trust (Interestingly, as such, it was often not considered the mostrelationships with the researchers rather than for statistical private of the items that one carried, that honor goingrepresentativeness. We decided to focus on individuals instead to the mobile phone or the day planner notebook.)transitioning into the workforce after completing their In addition to money itself, wallets in all three citieshigher education, as we expected (and found) them to be contained associated credentials in the form of loyalty orboth tech savvy and confronted with novel challenges as reward cards. These ranged from an informal “grant thethey adapted to a new life stage. bearer 10% off” hand-written on a bar’s business card, toStudy participation took place in four phases: credit card look-alikes that linked the user into private, generally poorly understood centralized databases of points,1. An initial interview, including a survey of their rewards, and purchasing habits. Often the most numerous “mobile kit”, i.e., everything they were carrying with type of loyalty card was the “buy N get one free” them – in their car, pockets, bags, wallets, hands, etc. generalization of a business card designed to be stamped or2. One or two days of diary keeping, focused on use of punched to record transactions at the point of sale. any of the aforementioned items. Various methods A universal plague on wallet use was the flood of receipts were experimented with, including notebooks, voice generated by transactions. These would periodically build recorders, and GPS-enabled camera phones. up in wallets, sometimes impressively adding to their bulk,3. A “shadowing” session in which a researcher until emptied out into some filing system at home. accompanied them on a shopping, commuting, or other Participants would apologize for them, and complain of the trip through the city. overhead of managing them (sometimes out of tax requirements), but sometimes one would bring to mind a4. A final interview, including a review of their diary. pleasant interaction or forgotten episode in their recent life.A total of 28 individuals participated, 12 in London, 10 in Somewhat analogous to these receipts were the manyLos Angeles, and 6 in Tokyo. These sites were selected as business cards that also inevitably built up in wallets untilmajor world cities with differing cultural, physical, and emptied into their own filing systems. These formed atechnological infrastructures. Many of our participants historical residue of social or business transactions,were graduates of elite universities, notably: the Royal sometimes valued enough to reside permanently in theCollege of Art (London), University of Southern California wallet’s limited card carrying capacity. They were often a(L.A.), and Keio University Shonan Fujisawa Campus source of professional pride, or urban prowess in knowing(Tokyo). the best spot for a foot massage, for example, rather than 1614
  3. 3. CHI 2005 | Late Breaking Results: Posters April 2-7 | Portland, Oregon, USAprompting apologies for the mess. (Having a standardized prepared, having purchasing power, needing access toform, unlike receipts, they were intrinsically less messy.) various infrastructures, and guarding against one’s own bad habits.Closely related to the primary financial content of walletswere, for all of our participants, credentials for Identity Management and Partitioningtransportation – though sometimes, consistent with their Wallets are quite literally about compartmentalization.secondary status, these were housed in a separate wallet, Each slot or compartment usually had an explicit function,often issued by a transit authority. These were more each card a specific meaning or category of use. Althoughelaborate for the transit-oriented cities of London and as Nippert-Eng [2] had found our participants varied in howTokyo, which produced complexes of commuter passes, much they sought to integrate or keep separate their worktravel cards, and ordinary tickets, often with associated and personal lives, the overall trend was towardsreceipt-like clutter. L.A., by comparison, demanded of its separateness, or at least separability. For example,driver-citizens merely a license and proof of insurance. freelancers lived under the constant threat of suddenPerhaps not surprisingly, transportation credentials were severance from their current employers, and so keptmost clearly on the cutting-edge of technological personal/professional data (primarily their contact lists)innovation, with most of our London and Tokyo separate from (or copied from) the work materials theirparticipants using radio-frequency identification (RFID) employer provided and controlled.stored-value farecards (Transport for London’s Oyster®Card [3] and JR East’s Suica® [8], respectively). Los The desire for separate but accessible partitions also playedAngelenos had nothing in their wallets of comparable out at the device or physical container level. Separate casestechnical complexity, nor of almost magical “Open, for business cards, travel documents, and backup items (likeSesame!” power. seldom used credit and loyalty cards) were not uncommon. As vernacular designers in Strickland’s sense [9], ourIn addition to commonality of contents, wallet users were participants were faced with continually trading off a desirealso uniformly engaged across all three sites studied with a to reduce the number and mass of things carried with a bothset of shared concerns, which we will now address in turn. desire to maximize the homogeneity, simplicity, and meaningfulness of each thing carried, and a desire forTemptation Management and Access Control having the right tools for the right situation. SometimesWallets provide a wide range of options to their users for this resulted in large bags of multiple wallets and deviceswhat kinds of transactions they can engage in. For some being carried about; other times, these forces were resolvedtransactions, only one mechanism is feasible, either into large numbers of items being left home, items carriedtechnologically or socially. For example, L.A. parking carefully selected for the particular outing.meters demand coins, and group outings in Tokyo demandcash (unless one has social standing to charge the group’s Collecting Affiliations and Historytab and then request individual reimbursement). Multiple Clutter management is the bane of the wallet user, yet itconflicting external constraints of this type account for apparently takes very little on a clutter-producer’s part forsome of the length of wallet contents, as many different clutter to find its way into the wallet. Accumulating tracesitems must be carried “just in case.” For many other from one’s interaction with the city, for ostensibly possibletransactions, however, multiple mechanisms are possible, (though often quite unlikely) future contact with theseeither for a single vendor (accepting cash, credit, and debit people, places, and services, was a widespreadcards) or across vendors. This places a burden of choice on preoccupation. In parallel with this valued and often funthe wallet user, either of vendor (place of transaction), or collecting activity was the drudgery of receipt tracking,payment method in a given place. particularly when mandated for tax or reimbursementThese choices, though adding complexity, are often actually purposes.highly valued. Particular places may be chosen and valued A number of forces and enablers appear to underlie thesefor the kinds of transactions they enforce or encourage, phenomena. One was the wallet form factor itself, designedwhether cash-only street markets that are seen to discourage to fit cards of a certain standardized size and shape (definedexcessive impulse buying, or transit systems that read as ID-1 by ISO standard 7810), and to be used such thatcredentials at a distance and so don’t require taking out there was always some spare capacity. (If not, bags orone’s wallet. Credit cards may be valued for emergency pockets – wallet extensions, as it were – could be used.) Ifuse and indicating a kind of social status, but nevertheless one is handed a card, chances are one has the means tokept in a separate wallet in one’s bag, not on one’s person, carry it. Another is the promise of future interaction, andto discourage use. Debit cards are similarly valued for the unpredictability of its value by the wallet user: better torestraining impulse spending, as the direct link to one’s err on the side of keeping everything, since one contactbank account are known and direct. For many in the just- might have a big future payoff, socially or financially. Andstarting-working life stage of our participants, cash flow is a finally we posit a widespread interest in collecting andperpetual problem, and complex practices developed personal history as an end in itself, even if only at anaround wallets in managing the conflicting forces of being 1615
  4. 4. CHI 2005 | Late Breaking Results: Posters April 2-7 | Portland, Oregon, USAaspirational, fairly superficial level. If receipts were as “freebies,” while also giving users more powerful andstandardized yet graphically interesting as business cards, aesthetic ways to get on top of, and stay on top of, theirthey might be collected with gusto as well. collections of urban residues and recollections of urban life. Much work on e-wallets has been on behalf of serviceIMPLICATIONSOur overall finding of commonality in wallet practices providers seeking increased efficiency, security, andacross London, L.A., and Tokyo, at least in the studied marketing power. These preliminary findings from a studycohort of young professionals, gives some credence to a of urban life across three continents suggest the usefulnesspossibility of a “e-wallet” (or, more likely, set of hardware of an additional perspective that considers the everydayand software e-wallet functionalities) that scales very design problems faced and resolutions achieved by urbanwidely. We call this notion a “global e-wallet,” though residents. That there are some intriguing commonalitiesrecognizing that like many other things “global,” it is likely both of problems and solutions across very different placesin practice to apply only to a global elite, with ready access suggests that notions of what and where e-wallets could beto the financial, physical, and social infrastructures that are worth expanding, with the end-user in mind.underlay the daily lives of our participants. ACKNOWLEDGMENTSOur findings suggest that e-wallet design could profitably We thank our research participants, and our collaborators ataddress the same ongoing issues and trade-offs faced by USC and Keio University Shonan Fujisawa Campus:physical wallet users. We don’t anticipate these tradeoffs Dr. Mizuko Ito and Dr. Daisuke Okabe, and researchgoing away as wallets become increasingly digital, but the assistants Kunikazu Amagasa, Rachel Cody, Heidi Cooley,equilibrium points may shift. Aico Shimizu, and Noriko Watanabe.In terms of temptation management and access control, e- REFERENCESwallets potentially cut both ways. They open the possibility 1. Cooper, L., Johnson, G., and Baber, C. (1999). A runof greater tracking and awareness of one’s spending on Sterling – Personal finance on the move. In Proc.behavior, and lifestyle more generally – in effect, ISWC 99, 87-92. 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