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Mobile Payment Unintended Consequences (or How I Locked Myself Out of the House, Again)

I am writing this post sitting on the front steps of our house in San Francisco. I have locked myself out three times recently, more than I have in the past three decades. Is it dementia? No, I blame mobile payments.

Last summer I bought a case for my iPhone that had handy little pockets for a credit card. Initially I only used it for my Clipper Card (the mass transit payment smart card we use here in the Bay Area). It was great to simply tap my phone as I boarded the tram or bus rather than fumbling in my briefcase or purse for my wallet. And it had the added benefit of making me look cool – hey, she paid with her phone, how’d she do that? (I know, I know, Pathetic Payments Geek.)

My first-gen mobile payment setup:


Eventually I started putting my credit card in the other pocket. If I was in town, I’d slide in my primary personal card and when I was traveling for work I’d substitute my work card. I even started sticking my drivers license in it, so that I could scan my boarding pass QR code, hand over my license, all without pulling out my wallet. Because I travel so much, I’d squeeze in my hotel key card, too (or rather, substitute it for the Bay Area-specific Clipper Card). I hate carrying a purse, and would simply slip my phone in my pocket and head out. Absolutely bliss. Yes, I am that person who really needs a mobile wallet.

Over the last month or so, I haven’t been traveling as much. Which means that I have to actually use my keys rather than a hotel room key card. And that’s when I started locking myself out of the house. Repeatedly.

I recognize that, eventually, my phone will unlock the car and the front door of our house. But in the meantime, I am going to have to go back to carrying a purse. Getting locked out repeatedly is absurd.

(Afterword: I picked up an iPhone 6 yesterday and immediately started using ApplePay. I stuck my Clipper card between the case and the phone to address the inconvenience of digging through my purse at the tram stop. But am resigned to carrying a purse for the time being to hold my house keys…no more getting locked out.)

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