By Abdel Jimenez

In the summer of 2018, I traveled to Santa Monica with a couple of my friends for our annual vacation trip. We spent the Fourth of July weekend near the beach, tucking our toes in the sand with no worries. The second day in California we planned an all day trip at the beach. I remember leaving rushing out of our Airbnb home trying to pack all my necessities in a fanny pack (yes, they still make those). It wasn’t until we stopped at a convenient store near Venice Beach that I realized that I didn’t have my wallet with me. Digging through my fanny pack, I felt an immense pressure. How was I going to pay for things throughout the whole day? I had to come up with other monetary sources.

The age of carrying extra cash or leftover change are long gone. My generation is not accustomed to having paper money in their wallets. For other millennials, wallets are becoming obsolete. Today’s new wallet is a smartphone. This is true for me. I have two of my credit cards set up on Apple Pay in my phone, and I have payment processing apps such as Venmo to pay back my friends without giving them cash. All of this is fine to cover myself in case of an emergency. However, there is one thing my phone is useless for in dire situations.

Of course, my phone can act as a wallet. And as much as Apple touts its new Face ID feature to lock their phones, it’s still a long way until my phone can replace my driver’s license. I can survive in most cases without my wallet, but the majority of the time I need it, especially my identification.

I realized that my phone has limits when I went to a bar with my friends later that day. I had to show ID if I wanted to purchase alcohol (I am old enough to drink). The bartenders chuckled when I told them if I could prove my age another way. Even when I make purchases over $30, I need my ID to show that I, the cardholder, am authorizing certain purchases. I was also limited in store options. For example, I had to search up stores that accept Apple Pay or similar alternative payment options. I was stuck with Starbucks, since most of its stores accept alternative payment options. It was stressful trying to find stores that could accommodate to a fool like me with no wallet or ID, and in no way was the digital age streamlining this wallet-less process.

Technology still has a long way to go. That weekend I discerned that I can’t rely on my phone when I don’t have my wallet. While cash is fading in use, my phone is no better replacement. I learned my lesson since my trip to Santa Monica. Now every time I go out, I make sure I have my wallet and at least $20 in cash for emergencies.

Abdel Jimenez is a student at Arizona State University.