3 Bye-Bye, Wallets

Can a phone replace your cards and cash? Our field test

Timothy Archibald for TIME

Store detail at Radio Shack

To hear certain people in Silicon Valley tell it, cash is teetering on the edge of obsolescence. In the not-too-distant future, the theory goes, we're going to pay for everything with our cell phones--and it'll be quicker, smarter and safer than using paper money or plastic.

There are already several ways to do this. The most widely accepted one, Google Wallet, requires you to have a special chip in your phone (now on only a handful of Android models). You pay by tapping your phone on a credit-card reader equipped with near-field communication (NFC) technology. At best, it's no easier than...

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