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We’re One Step Closer to a Totally Mobile Wallet

MasterCard demonstrates Apple Pay at the launch of MasterCard's NYC Tech Hub on Monday, Oct. 20, 2014.

MasterCard demonstrates Apple Pay at the launch of MasterCard's NYC Tech Hub on Monday, Oct. 20, 2014. // Charles Sykes/AP

Leaving the house without your wallet may no longer be the disaster it once was. Along with a slew of other wallet-oriented apps, a new program from the US state of Iowa promises to get you one step closer to a wallet-free life.

The state’s department of transportation announced plans to test a driver’s license smartphone app to replace the standard plastic card, the Washington Post reported yesterday. The app with the driver’s ID would also incorporate push notifications about, say, traffic conditions or a looming license expiration.

App makers have been hacking away at the physical wallet for a while. Smartphone users already have the power to abandon their physical credit cards by using Apple Pay or Google Wallet. Insurer GEICO launched an app for digital car insurance ID cards last year, and Apple’s Passbook serves as a useful repository for loyalty cards and tickets.

The digital wallet is far from complete, though. For instance, there’s still the matter of health insurance and transit cards in most cities. A few cities like London are experimenting with mobile wallet solutions for public transport. Washington DC is hoping to bring NFC smartphone payments to its Metro by 2020.

Until then, people like Gwen Stefani will keep peddling a wallet-free future.

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