A wallet-free month: Is that possible? - The self-experiment.

How far is Switzerland when it comes to paying by smartphone only.

Will Kölbener im Selbstversuch

Not long ago, leaving the house every day with just a mobile phone and being able to solve everything with just one device sounded somewhat utopian. But to be able to do this one day, I personally find very liberating. To do without cards, cash and co. completely means for me that I have to think less and the danger of losing or misplacing something decreases. For me, this is convenient and user-friendly. Many others do it differently for good reasons.

In May I have now started a self-experiment and have completely given up my wallet. I only left the house with my smartphone and the apartment key. I wanted to test whether I could really do without my bank cards, cash and whatever else was in my wallet completely. I hardly used the wallet any more anyway.

My Setup in May

  • TWINT: The Swiss payment solution I've been using for a while now. But mainly for peer-to-peer payments and online payments. In business, the solution is not widespread and much too slow. With the contactless card I am much faster.
  • Samsung Pay: At the beginning of April I bought a new smartphone (Galaxy S10+). This enabled me to use Samsung Pay, because my credit cards (cashback cards from Swisscard) support it. I also have the most important customer cards stored here.
  • Google Pay: Last month, Google introduced their own payment solution in Switzerland. Thanks to Revolut, after initial problems, I was able to try out Google Pay as well.
  • Sonect: A relatively new app for withdrawing money in shops. I got to know it at the end of April and it was, among other things, one of the reasons why I was able to try the experiment. I need cash once or twice a month. For these few cases, I have been allowed to carry my PostFinance card around with me until now.
  • Digital PostFinance Card: For some time now, PostFinance has allowed the PostFinance Card to be used digitally on Android devices using NFC. I had set this up once, but hardly ever used it. One reason for this was that it didn't always work reliably in the beginning (failed payments or the digital card had to be set up again and again) and I prefer to pay with my credit card because I benefit from cashback programs there. According to a recent communication from PostFinance, the solution will be switched off (temporarily) at the beginning of June anyway.
  • General Abonnement (GA) stored in the SBB App I actually only use public transport. If I ever need the car, I use Mobility. But that's planned and I can take my driving licence with me in such cases.
  • I have waived the ID, because in Switzerland we do not require any identification. I have a copy of my passport and ID on my mobile phone for emergencies.

At the beginning of May I was quite optimistic with the setup that I would be able to go the whole month without a wallet. Especially since I have had very good experiences with convenience and reliability since I started using Samsung Pay, and thanks to Sonect, I could fall back on cash if necessary.

My mobile usage behavior in May

The following table gives an overview of the use of the smartphone last May. Those who find this too detailed can jump directly to the next chapter. There I draw the conclusion. If nothing else is noted, I paid with Samsung Pay.

 

Date, use and comment

1.5. working day

  • Payment Migros Take Away
  • Payment Namics Kiosk / Snackbox (TWINT)
  • GA

2.5. working day

  • Payment Migros Take Away
  • Payment Namics Kiosk / Snackbox (TWINT)
  • TWINT P2P transfer received
  • GA

At noon I went jogging with a colleague and paid for both in the take away, as we both only had the mobile phone with us. I received the amount from the colleague by TWINT.

3.5. working day

  • Bakery payment
  • Payment Coop
  • GA

4.5. weekend

  • Payment Coop
  • Payment Asia Take Away
  • Payment Aldi
  • Payment Restaurant
  • GA

5.5. weekend

6.5. working day

  • Payment Asia Take Away
  • GA

Over the Internet I sold my old Wii U with a variety of accessories for 320 CHF. The buyer paid cash. This lay around for a month.

7.5. working day

  • Payment Migros Take Away
  • GA

8.5. working day

  • Payment Nanna Colourful kitchen
  • Payment H&M
  • Payment Migros Take Away
  • Payment Coop
  • Payment Namics Kiosk / Snackbox (TWINT)
  • GA

9.5. working day

  • Payment kebab
  • Payment Coop
  • GA

10.5. Day off

  • Payment Aldi
  • Payment Obi
  • GA

At Obi I learned that parking is only possible with coins. If I had come by car, I would have had a problem.

11.5. weekend

  • Payment Migros
  • GA

12.5. weekend

At our local park it had a small kiosk. Here I would have liked to have an ice cream. But you could only pay cash.

13.5. working day

  • GA

14.5. working day

  • Payment Migros Take Away
  • Payment Coop
  • GA

15.5. working day

  • Payment Migros Take Away
  • Payment Namics Kiosk / Snackbox (TWINT)
  • GA

16.5. working day

  • Payment Migros

Home Office Day

17.5. Day off

  • Payment Aldi
  • Payment Restaurant
  • GA

18.5. weekend

  • Payment Migros

19.5. weekend

20.5. working day

  • Payment Namics Kiosk / Snackbox (TWINT)
  • GA

21.5. working day

  • Payment Pretzel King
  • GA

22.5. working day

  • Payment Migros
  • Payment Denner (Google Pay)
  • GA

Payment was made with Google Pay to test the new service.

23.5. sick

24.5. day off

  • Payment passport office (Google Pay)
  • Lift-off with Sonect
  • Payment Asia Take Away
  • GA

Payment was made with Google Pay, as Samsung Pay did not work for unknown reasons. Withdrawal with Sonect was a test attempt. My wife kindly took the cash directly from me. The saleswoman did not know the solution and was initially surprised by my inquiry.

25.5. weekend

  • Payment Aldi
  • Payment Migros
  • GA

During a walk we passed a stand where cake was sold. Unfortunately they could only pay cash, so I had to do without.

26.5. weekend

  • Payment Squash
  • Payment kiosk in the park (TWINT)

At the kiosk, which I had visited for the first time on 12.5., I could pay this time with TWINT. Either this was newly introduced or I missed it last time.

27.5. working day

  • Payment Coop
  • GA

28.5. working day

  • Payment Denner
  • Payment Flying Tiger (Google Pay)
  • Payment Kiosk
  • Sonect withdrawal
  • GA

Samsung Pay again did not work in a store. I guess it has to do with the fact that I wanted to pay first with the AmEx card and then with VISA, because AmEx was not accepted. At the Sonect withdrawal the seller was surprised again and did not know the solution. But it worked perfectly.

29.5. working day

  • Payment Migros Take Away
  • GA

30.5. public holiday

  • GA

31.5. working day

  • Payment Namics Kiosk / Snackbox (TWINT)
  • Settlement of debt (TWINT)
  • GA

My Key Take Aways from the month without wallet

I was more nervous at first when I left the house. The wallet provides security. I have a safety net in case the mobile doesn't work or the battery runs out. Towards the end of the month the feeling was mostly gone. But if I go shopping or eat out at a new place, I try to find out if I can pay without cash. I still don't have the same security as with a wallet after 31 days.

  • NFC always works. In every shop where I could pay with my card in the last 30 plus days, there was also NFC. Ideal for solutions like Google Pay, Samsung Pay or Apple Pay. Switzerland probably has advantages over other countries here. However, Samsung Pay has a slight advantage over Apple and Google Pay abroad. Payments at older terminals that only have magnetic strips are also possible. Last month it happened to me twice that I paid with the magnetic strip instead of the NFC chip and therefore had to sign the receipt briefly.
  • TWINT does not stand a chance for in-store payments: Especially in terms of speed, TWINT cannot hold a candle to the payment solutions of the big players. With Google Pay you don't even have to open the app. With the Samsung Pay app, the integration with customer cards is very well solved and payment is extremely fast despite opening the app.
  • But TWINT has its right to exist. Besides the peer-to-peer payment function, the app is a great alternative to cash in smaller shops. At one point or another, TWINT was able to provide added value that the big players were unable to cover. The solution is an important building block in order to be able to travel completely cashless. TWINT has also found an important niche with the increasing integration in the payment of parking spaces.
  • Sonect is a great way to organize cash relatively easily and straightforwardly for the few cases where I needed cash. At present, the Valora Group's network of shops in particular offers relatively good coverage. However, it is not (yet) possible to achieve full coverage of the ATMs. Nor are opening hours equally flexible. The PostFinance card is more convenient for withdrawals. But I can do without the added value for the few withdrawals per month. It would also be great if I could also deposit money. I have not yet found a digital solution for this use case.

My conclusion

At the beginning I was optimistic that I would survive the month without a wallet more or less unscathed. In the end I was surprised how few problems there were. In almost every situation there was a suitable solution on the mobile. Although this may mean that you have to do without something from time to time when cash is the only option and you want to buy something spontaneously, it also has its good sides. Also, I would most likely have had these problems with my wallet, as cash is almost never found in it.

Also in the future I will do without my purse (for the most part) after this month. At least in Switzerland. TWINT and Sonect do not (yet) work abroad. These solutions cover important use cases which the big players in Switzerland cannot afford at the moment and will probably not offer in the future. It will also have to be shown how well Samsung or Google Pay works outside Switzerland.

And I appreciate that my colleagues and friends will continue to carry cash with them. A little bit more security I have through this honestly but. The smartphone does not yet cover 100% of all use cases.

If you have made other experiences or know solutions that support a life without a wallet better, I would be very happy about input.