The marriage of prepaid cards and smartphones is making it so that not only can you go without a bank account, but you might not need a wallet, either.
With innovations ranging from pay-by-phone apps to e-gift card aggregators, smartphones are providing consumers a new tool they can use to make prepaid purchases and manage their finances.
“Mobile is changing a lot of the financial industry and has the potential to change more in ways we aren’t able to see yet,” says Eva Wolkowitz, an associate with the nonprofit Center for Financial Services Innovation in Chicago.
The shift could bear particular significance for individuals without bank accounts. According to a March 2015 Federal Reserve report, 67 percent of the unbanked have access to a mobile phone, 65 percent of which are smartphones.
Here are five ways smartphones are changing how consumers use prepaid cards.