Baidu appears to be developing a smart wallet, if a number of recently-filed patents are any indication. The China-based web services company hasn’t made any official announcement, but its dealings in intellectual property indicate that it’s looking to get into the wallet business at a time when conflicting trends make it difficult to predict success.
The patents filed all revolve around a physical wallet design – not a virtual wallet – and relate to GPS tracking, smartphone pairing, self-destruct features like spray painting, and even biometric authentication measures including voice and iris modalities. It sounds a lot like the iWallet – a similar, ‘smart wallet’ that features fingerprint-based biometric access control, Bluetooth tethering, and other security measures.
It’s a funny time to be developing such a product. Mobile commerce is on the rise, with a number of prominent mPayment systems starting to compete aggressively for mass market interest. Consumers appear to be increasingly moving away from tradition, physical payments.
On the other hand, wearables and smart tech are on the rise too, with splashy new products like the Apple Watch helping to familiarize consumers with smart fashion accessories. So there’s a chance that a smart wallet, if marketed the right way, could catch on with a certain segment of shoppers.
It’s anyone’s guess, and again, Baidu hasn’t officially announced that it’s developing this thing. But the signs are there, and Baidu clearly thinks it’s worth exploring at the very least.