The Briefing: Customer Wallets, Customer Futures - Episode #24

Will brands have their own wallets for customers? Will customers have their own wallets that they give brands access to?

The Briefing: Customer Wallets, Customer Futures - Episode #24

Will brands have their own wallets for customers? Will customers have their own wallets that they give brands access to?

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Will brands have their own wallets for customers? Will customers have their own wallets that they give brands access to? How will digital wallets reshape the data we store? And what’s the difference between personal and personalised wallets?

In this episode of The Briefing I discuss all of this and more with Jamie Smith, founder of Customer Futures.

This episode also features an announcement about the future of this podcast. The Briefing will only be available to members in future. To find out more about the membership and how to join visit

The Discussion episodes continue to be available wherever you listen to podcasts.

Jamie Smith

Tracey’s deck, Identity Century:

Accenture’s Tech Trends

Tracey's book 'The Future of You: Can Your Identity Survive 21st Century Technology?' available in the UK ( and US (


Tracey Follows  0:20

Welcome to a new episode of The Future of You: The Briefing. And before we get started a bit of news, I've been bringing you two formats of this podcast for a while now; the in-depth conversations called The Discussion and the topical news on identity called The Briefing. I've been talking about the evolution of identity in a digital world since 2016 and I've been researching it for just as long and really enjoy exploring all the various aspects of it along with you on this fortnightly podcast. And it now appears that the issue is finally reaching the mainstream. This weekend, I saw two reports focusing on identity one from Accenture, on their tech trends for 2023, which had an upfront section on digital identity for everyone and everything, and one from an ad agency group exploring the changing nature of identity. So what am I saying? I think I'm saying that think tanks and trends, analysts and management consultants are now converging around identity, so they finally began to understand its importance. And that means that it's probably time for me to rethink how much of my content is public. I plan on continuing the in-depth conversations with experts in and around identity, but The Briefings which aggregate and investigate the really topical news on emerging identity issues, and innovations, which take me a little while to research write and record will then move to my website, where they can be accessed by members who sign up to the club membership. It's time to build a proper community, around digitised identity, but also my own philosophy of identity. And I'd like to build that with you. So more news to come on this soon.

Tracey Follows  1:56

It does mean that lots of my content on identity will still be free. In fact, in the last two weeks, I've published and posted my deck, Identity Century: The BUSiness of People in the Future. It's 100 pages long and outlines what's happened with identity over recent years, how digitization is transforming us, why authenticity is no longer the reality, and what takes its place. And it sets out the major implications for identity for businesses and brands over the rest of this century. We're at a critical time. As I say it's all going mainstream, which means certain power shifts around identity will now take place as specific beliefs and approaches become somewhat codified. Now, I made the Identity Century deck public, as I would love as many people as possible to read and discuss it. And please do let me know your thoughts. I love to hear from you about this. The link to the deck is in the show notes. You can always email me. I would also really appreciate it if you could share it around as it does capture the existential threat to identity that I first explored in the book, The subtitle of which if you remember was 'can your identity survive the 21st century?' Well, that question remains not only unanswered, but even unasked in many quarters.

Tracey Follows  3:10

Part two of the Identity Century deck that I'm just finishing up now goes into a lot more detail about the specific implications and actions are all of this for businesses and brands, as well as individual citizens and consumers. And it contains the answers to many of the questions I've been posing for a while. So on that note, and speaking of brands and consumers, I thought I'd bring you a conversation I had with Jamie Smith on customer futures. In this great conversation we cover; what's a digital wallet and how it works, the value proposition for wallets and how we reshape the data we store, the difference between personal and personalised wallets, the emerging digital divide, and so much more. Enjoy and don't forget to check out the show notes for more and Jamie's work. And I will see you for more Briefings in the future at The Discussion? Well, that will be back in two weeks on Apple and Spotify and Google and Amazon on any of your favourite podcast platforms. And we'll be discussing gaming, virtual and mixed realities and identity. So see you then. And thanks as always for listening.

Tracey Follows  4:22

Welcome Jamie to The Future of You

Jamie Smith  4:24

Very delighted to be here.

Tracey Follows  4:26

Perhaps you could tell our audience who you are and what you do, first of all...

Jamie Smith  4:29

So I am Jamie Smith. I started a blog called Customer Futures which really is describing where we think the future identities going, the future of digital wallets, personal AI, and how they're coming together to redefine customer engagement really, and how individuals can re-engage in a more meaningful way with businesses. My day job I have been working on innovation, digital wallets and identity for about 15 years through consulting and product and most recently at Gen Digital.

Tracey Follows  5:02

Brilliant - so it's so good that you're here because obviously, this is like the intersection of, you know, individuality, identity, customer relationship brands, corporations, and I wanted to talk to you about all of that. But I wonder if you could start off by just telling us a little bit about what you think a wallet is? How would you explain it to somebody who has absolutely no knowledge of it whatsoever?

Jamie Smith  5:27

It's a great question. I think a wallet is really nothing more than a place we put our things and then we can carry around with us. And if you dig into that a little bit, it gets really interesting. Because when you know, when you go on holiday, you might have a different digital wallet, and your passport might be in there, and maybe a health card, maybe a boarding pass. Or if you're going out for the evening, you might take some other precious things out of your wallet, because you don't want to lose those other things, you might just take an identity or a credit card or something. And so the wallet becomes something that you control, manage, and it's yours to use in whatever context. And what's really important is you get to put whatever you want in it. And I think there's, you know, in the analogue world and the kind of day to day life, we have these leather things, purses and wallets, and we decide what to put in them. And as we've moved over to digital, there's been much more rules and regulations and business processes wrapped around them, which means we're not able to put anything we want in them. And we've got to have, you know, we can only use them in certain places that we're allowed to, or, you know, it's going to be day, day, month, month, year, year, not month, month, day, day, year, year. And it's just gets a bit more complicated. But I think in simple terms, a digital wallet is something that you know, a place I get a bit of my stuff, and carry it with me and then present what I want, where I want it. And I think in a digital context, we've lost some of that utility, we've lost some of the value of a digital wallet. And I think that's a really interesting place to kind of explore how we get back to a really digital wallet could be.

Tracey Follows  7:07

Now Apple have been doing their wallet for some time, haven't they? And you can kind of see them moving into financial services, maybe even banking, full scale, but they were the first ones I think, really to say 'Oh, here you can have a wallet on your iPhone.' Do you foresee a future in which we've got an Apple wallet in a kind of walled garden closed system? Or are you talking about a different kind of future for wallets?

Jamie Smith  7:31

Honestly, I think it's going to be a mixed economy. And, you know, organisations are going to want to think about what they want to put in a digital wallet and protect that they have their own business interests rightly. But really, we want to think about value for the consumer value for the customer. And to maximise that value, you want to be able to use it in as many places as possible, and use it for the things you need to get done. And Apple's wallet, you know, they're just superb in terms of customer experience. In terms of making things just easy to use and understand and simple taps. And I think the digital wallet conversation so far has been quite a technical one. And actually the language about wallets apart from really Apple and Google and payments. The language about wallets that have come out over the last I would say 10 or so years has been one of Web3 and blockchains and bitcoins and assets and NFTs and I think the whole language around this is messy. And so Apple will have, you know, they're gonna want to control the experience, and therefore you can't just put anything in there. And you know, right now they've got my coffee shop loyalty card, a boarding pass, and my payment card. And they are building their business relationships with other organisations who want to be able to accept them. And they honestly want to preserve the seamless experience. They want to make it beautiful, and easy. And I think as individuals expect more of their apps and services, we're going to want to do more things with them. And therefore we're going to want to put more things in. And the tension right now is the wallet conversation is a very nerdy technical one. And you get worried about cryptography and digital signing and recovery and things that are really important, but day to day consumers don't really understand and honestly don't think about. And so I think organisations have had to build their walled gardens so that they can control the experience and make sure things are neat as well. It's become more sophisticated. As the community working on them get better at things like interoperability and standards and then other brands and other startups and innovators are built to build on top of them build great experiences like Apple has. And that's where we're gonna see the full potential. So I said, it's going to be a mixed economy, because I think some brands are gonna still want to control things end to end. And some new platforms. And you know, digital leaders are going to build new apps and services around digital wallets. They're gonna make them more portable and more useful. So we're gonna have both, I think short term - but utility and value for consumers, it's going to come once they're more portable, once they're more useful, and I can use them in more places.

Tracey Follows  10:32

I think some of the confusion comes from when we use the word wallet. Because most people when they think of wallet, think of money. And there is this thought: isn't there that actually a wallet is for your currency, whether it's crypto or wood, or another digital currency or whatever and that should be separate from your wallet with your credentials that give you access to different things? Or should we have many, many wallets one for each brand, I mean, that's going to get quite confusing, for example. So maybe you can just talk me through whether you think the word wallet is even helping describe your vision of the future, or the preferred future vision for this kind of move into the digital world.

Jamie Smith  11:15

I think you've hit on a really important topic. And honestly, I don't think most people care about wallets. And honestly, they don't care about identity. And they don't care about data. They just want to get stuff done. You know, they don't care about petrol, they want to visit the grandmother. So I think browsers are quite a good analogy, right? I don't care about having a browser, I care about online banking, and cat pictures, and social media and connecting with my friends. And we've got this very narrow conversation that wallets. It's a bit like having a very narrow conversation about URLs and browsers and sidebars in HTML. And I kind of think of it like, you know, this is kind of a new customer stack emerging, like no tools for me. And at the very low levels, it's how it works. The higher levels, it's like, 'Well, what I can do with it?' So in a browser, the low level is your eyes and HTML and responsive design, and you know, the mechanics of it. But above the line is, I can now do amazing new things. I can buy things from my sofa. I can buy an airline ticket, or I can order from a restaurant. And I think we need to think about digital wallets the same way. I think they're actually going to be kind of below the surface, we're gonna abstract them away a bit. And they should be because most people don't know. They don't care. And so the details matter, to your point about being open or closed, the details are gonna matter - which wallet, and how are they secure, and how are they making privacy better. But really, to get adoption to, for it to hit the mainstream and actually enter the public consciousness of this being a useful thing to have, I think we need to start thinking above the waterline. Thinking about jobs to be done. It's kind of a value proposition that's 101 of how to build valuable services and products. And I suppose it's worth touching on the super apps. Because they, largely in China and in Asia, they've absolutely dominated by building valuable services. And the way they do that is by vertically integrating, right? I've got the wallet, and the payment rails and the profiles that allow me to onboard seamlessly, but also the insurance, the taxi company that the delivery service. And I think they've been so explosive and growth because it's so valuable, honestly. And I think with digital wallets, we have an opportunity to reimagine what that value could look alike, but in an open way. So actually, I've got my payment layer, my identity, my loyalty information, but I can layer on top all the services that I want, not just the one that the platform chose to add. And I think that's where it gets really interesting. So I think wallets are going to open up a new way of thinking about commerce, a new way of thinking about customer experience. And your point about you know, I've talked quite a lot about where the value is. And I suppose the getting back to your question is a wallet is below the surface of it. And I think we should be mindful about where the value is created. The value's created much higher up from a customer experience.

Jamie Smith  11:20

Maybe that's how we should talk about it because a while it is normally in your handbag or in your pocket, it's hidden away, isn't it?

Jamie Smith  13:11

Totally and it only comes out when you need it. And actually I can only speak from my personal experience, you know, I might take my credit card with me. I just appear in my back pocket. I won't even need a wallet. And so a wallet's the container and Dave Birch has talked about this for a long time. It's like you know, cards are going to disappear way faster than Cash. And so identity cards and all the plastic and paper will disappear. Because I can approve it digitally, in a context I'm happy with and where you know where it makes sense in the browser or in an app. So I think wallets are going to show up in all sorts of parts of our lives in a way we can't honestly predict or expect right now. But I think the wallet is just, it's a helpful time to think about a container for, you know, proof of stuff. Because Dropbox or Google Drive is a wallet, right now. But I can't prove what's in there. But you can't prove where it's come from a digital wallet, with all the verifiable goodness that comes from being able to, you know, cryptographically, sign and watermark stuff, that's where the magic is gonna happen. Because suddenly, my data is going to be useful in new places, and I can create new services on top.

Tracey Follows  15:49

Let's talk about what we're trying to prove then with these credentials, or whatever the equivalent is going to be in the future. We've talked before on this podcast, and I've chatted to lots of people about really what you're trying to prove is, is a person. And that's what Dave Birch would say, you're trying to prove 'is a person' not 'is Dave Birch'. What's your point of view on this? and how do we communicate that to, you know, to customers who are maybe nervous that they think they're exposing their personal identity, or they won't have anonymity anymore? Because there's possibly a misunderstanding about what we mean by authentication or verification around identity?

Jamie Smith  16:29

I kind of flip it around a bit, and start with who needs what. So rather than thinking, 'Well, what can we put in there? And what's the format? And what am I sharing,' which are really important questions, but they're secondary, they actually come after what we need to prove something. And the example everyone talks about is, you don't need my date of birth, you don't even even age, you just need a yes or no or above or below a certain age. And I think that whole framing of it is thinking about, well, what's actually needed to get something done. And you know, Amazon doesn't really care who you are. They care about what you like, they care about what you've bought in the past and they care that you've got a credit card and a verified shipping address. Now, they don't necessarily need to know its first name, last name, date of birth, they might for regulatory reasons, the proof age, for a certain product in a certain region. But I think this question of identity has got really messy. And honestly, if you speak to the identerati, the high priests of identity, we get very philosophical about who gets to decide who I am, what I'm called. And you get into a very, sometimes messy conversation about things like identifiers. What does that mean? What's my account number, my date of birth? My, you know, my social security number? And actually, if you flip it and say, Well, how do we just go through life, sharing only what we need to share? Some of us regulatory - you know the bank, when they receive data from you, they need to store it for seven years, at least in the UK, for good know, your customer reasons and anti money laundering and so on. But for lots and lots of other use cases. And by the way, they're regulated to look after that data and steward it and make sense of data breaches, and they're not using it for other purposes, and so on. But so many other use cases, you actually don't need to share a bunch of information about us, and my example, but Amazon is a really important one, because Spotify doesn't either. And so they might need an email address that's to communicate with me on a credit card on what I like. So if we start to rethink, actually what data is needed to get stuff done, I think we can quite powerfully reshape the data that I actually need to store in my digital wallet. Which by the way, doesn't even necessarily need to have my identity in it, quote, unquote, government ID, or even bank and so, you know, what if I can share profile information about myself? Things I mentioned it in things I've done, things have been where I could express a need for something - like I'm interested in a car. You know we get into this world of intent, rather than having an email address, where I, frankly, brands want to connect with me. So they send me stuff. Like that gets overwhelming and we're starting to put up filters and junk rules and it's we're fending off all this information, this overload from organisations. And I think what wallets have the power to do potentially, is give customers a new endpoint, the organization's could connect with. And so once I put information in that wallet that's verifiable. There's a value to an organisation without having to overshare a whole bunch of other attributes that you honestly don't need. I think that becomes much more valuable to organisations and as far as they can, they can ask for less data to the chief privacy officer and the Chief Information Security Officer, they're happier. There's less risk to the organisation, it's lighter, there's fewer things to have to do, fill out and complete, and so on. So customer experiences get better, the data sharing is just less, less heavy. And I think that that's where the real opportunity is. And it lifts us out into conversation that lifts us out of a wallet conversation. So we'll put lots of different things in there. Honestly, the important things are you who needs them, what value are we creating with them? And secondly, are they verifiable? So it's not verifiable then it might as well just be self attested. Organisations may or may not want to collect that data...

Tracey Follows  20:30

Do you foresee a future in which our personal AI agents can kind of use that wallet or the contents of that wallet on our behalf? Like who's going to being in control of it, you know, you could potentially programme it, to not share certain parts of data with certain brands, and then an agent can go off and do that on your behalf? Or do you think it is us the human being that's constantly 100% in control of it all the time?

Jamie Smith  20:58

Well, I think we should separate two things out there. One is rules around the wallet, I could say we can do that today. We don't need fancy machine learning and artificial intelligent models to do that. I can set some If This Then That rules, quite simply saying, if this organisation asked for these things, then do that. And by the way, I can keep a lovely cryptographic audit trail of everything that's ever been asked of me. And everything I've shared. On the second point about personal AI, I'll come to in a minute about agents and stuff. Let's just think about that for a second. Think about that audit trail. That means that if an organisation is not asking for stuff, there's now a lovely record that they've done that, that starts to change their behaviour. But what they asked for where and when...

Tracey Follows  21:40

How will that record be held? Jamie? What data will it be?

Jamie Smith  21:43

I mean, it a very boring technical advice, just kind of an event log of interactions in the wallet. You know, stuff I was asked for? Did I say yes? No? I responded, I respond with and I can approve what's been asked of me? I think that alone might start to change behaviour. But who's asking for what? Because I can see why. Actually, why did they asked me for that? The you know, yes, they needed these five things, or why did they ask for six, seven and eight? You know, when the consumer watchdogs might start to get interested about well, we can start to instrument that right, we can start to see what's being asked for where and when I think that gets really interesting. Well, if you futuregaze a bit, might I pay $1.99 a month for a plug into my wallet? In the UK I might use Which? maybe, or I might have a plugin from another consumer watchdog another jurisdiction? Maybe? And they can, they can be helping me make good decisions about what I'm sharing with who? So that gets really interesting. Will I always be in control? 100%? Will I always need to tap? Yes. I don't know. Maybe. You know with GDPR and consent and the banners - everyone's got consent fatigue now. And I think the really smart designers, who think about design patterns are saying, 'well, maybe I could say look, if this organisation asks me in the next 16 days, just say yes. And by the way, I've got a record of it So I can go back and say, Well, what's going on there if there's something suspicious, but if they ask to see, yes, if I'm going on a trip, the airline can ping my wallet, legitimately in the next 48 hours. You don't need to tap every time. So that's the first thing. And the second thing is personally I there's a whole other podcast to be recorded about. You know, I like to think about the difference between personal and personalised. So personalised. It's someone else's right. And I've given it some configuration, and they're doing it to me a bit, you know, I get some value out of it. It's not really mind tailored, not designed. You know right at the start of this, we talked about a leather wallet that is mine,. I can choose what I put in it. Why can't we do the same with AI? Why can't I have an AI that's on my side? There's not personalised that actually, we're all contributing to this massive corpus of knowledge that, you know, they may not be selling the data, but they're, you know, building value and creating insights and stuff that they can use elsewhere. That's not for me, why can I have a personal AI? And you asked, you will access my wallet 100%. And that's back to this waterline thing. You know, I've personally set up some rules and I’m making recommendations. Yeah, I'll have that running on my personal wallet. As long as I'm in control of the boundaries, I can see what training data has been. And here's the thing I was discussing this recently, I might give that training model that AI more data than I might another platform. Because I know it's mine and I know I can turn it off and control and you know, there's boundaries there. There's digital trust. And if it's got more data, it can be even more helpful.

Jamie Smith  21:58

How is this going to come to fruition when we've got governments and corporations and particularly tech platforms who are desperate to extract more and more personal information and data from us, and also use it against us in a way that they'd like to socially engineer us? So they'd like to push us in certain directions to either speak in a certain way or hold certain opinions or behave in a certain way that benefits them, not us. There's an awful lot of temptation, on their side of things to not allow us the kind of empowered personal control that you're talking about with customer futures. How are we going to bring this to fruition and stop them from overreaching when they're very able to overreach?

Jamie Smith  25:40

That's a really good question. I think. I'm gonna think of this through a few different lenses. The first one is technical possibility, right? It's only been large organisations that could build this stuff, and had the data scientists and, frankly, the data centres and all these things. I think, the technology's commoditizing until people can build things themselves. There's going to be tinkerers, at first innovators, and I think, you know, it's this idea of value gaps, I think there's white space on the side of the customer to build new things. And maybe it's $1.99 a month, you know, to build tools that I control and manage. So I think there's, there's open opportunity on the customer side, that would create value for just me. And guess what, once I've got insights about myself, I bet businesses would pay for some of that. And I would share some of it under my control on my terms, and I've got that audit trail of what I've shared. So I think that's one lens of technical possibility. And by the way, part of that is, you know, the last 50 years, we've really only, I mean, we built most stuff for businesses, all the data machines. And I think there's an inevitability that some of that balance is going to pivot over to the customer side. So that's the first point, I think there's a legislative one, or regulatory, I should say, that says, you know, there's a really good, interesting debate about regulating AI right now for personal data, for example. But actually, there's loads of really good personal data regulations already out there. What you can and can't do with how you get consent, or you process it, are you the controller or the processor? And we're starting to see people push back on these AI platforms saying, Actually, I've got, we've got the existing regulatory frameworks. We don't need lots of new exciting, you know rushed through regulation that does this new exciting AI thing. We've got personal data regulations in parts of the US and the UK and across Europe, and Australia. So we can, you know, I think there's gonna be guardrails there. But it is a bit of a wild west right now, just like it was with the web, in the 90s and, frankly, early 2000s.

Tracey Follows  27:47

So as you're talking about that, I'm thinking are you including the trust framework that the UK Government is working to in this digital wallet credentials space, or digital identity space? Or is what you're talking about, customer futures, sitting outside of that?

Jamie Smith  28:00

I think it's sitting alongside the governance frameworks that, for example, UK set out is describing who gets to be an identity provider. Who gets to verify who Jamie is, and then give him blobs of data or create profiles that he can then use elsewhere. And it might be that as a third party, that can consume that data directly from the identity provider, which is what the banks would do, for example, or in this wallet world, that signal might go from that identity provider directly to me, and I hold it. And I mentioned earlier, you know, we've now got lever cryptography and digital watermarking, which means it consider my wallet. But it can be probably come from that identity provider, some so called IDP. So these governance frameworks sit together, the UK framework will say, Well, who gets to prove it's Jamie and wonder what rules and are they certified? Quite rightly. There's going to need to be new regulations and frameworks to say, well, who gets to be a wallet provider? There's also going to have to be regulations - well, who gets to request stuff? You know, across Europe, there's lots of nervousness about this idea of papers, please, kind of culture and in an IoT world, right? So you know, everything that can be connected will be connected. I think in a wallet, world, anything that can be asked for, will be asked for. And so we're going to need these guardrails, these boundaries about to protect people, because they're just going to tap and say yes. And so I think the UK governance framework around identified is going to be part of that for sure. Can we trust the sources of data, but there's going to be need to be new, you know, some some column registries, you know, accreditation of wallet, self of data sharing agreements, or who can share what and honestly I think this, you know, people talk about transparency is a bit of a high level concept, but a meaningful example of that is this audit trail of who's asked for what, and you know, am I really sharing this with British Airways? Am I really sharing it with the bank? And how do we think about who the trusted organisations are?

Tracey Follows  30:05

It's interesting, as you said, British Airways, because I was thinking as you were talking, I've got the Yoti app on my phone. And it's got a couple of things including, let's say, my passport details. So that's where my like, air quotes, "identity" sits in the Yoti app. But what you're talking about with customer futures, is potentially I could have a wallet that is just working directly with British Airways, right? So I wouldn't necessarily need the Yoti app. Is that right? Or would they sit alongside and almost duplicate?

Jamie Smith  30:37

I think we're in phases of transition. I think it's possible, it could be a Yoti app it could be another model, I think we're in a phase of transition. And we're going from a world where there aren't really wallets out there. And we don't have this portable, verifiable data. And Yoti has been one of the best early examples and saying, Let me digitally sign a copy of your passport and all those attributes onto the phone, and then make it portable and use it in the convenience shop or use it at British Airways. So it's an example of a tool that I can use that's on my side, that's portable. I think there's no reason why that wallet can sit inside the British Airways app. And so British Airways, my app, I now might have things that pertain to my British Airways relationships. And so we're going back to the point about where wallets go, I think we don't know the answer. But I think there's gonna be an explosion of other providers, which is why we need accreditation. It's also why we need standards to know that the good ones and the bad ones, just like we have the standards for cars, we don't just put, we just get in any car, we want to make sure that they're regulated and registered, and so on. I think this is powerful, potent stuff. This is about who you are, and where you go, and private information. And, honestly, you know, the patterns of behaviour about how you show up and where you go, this is gonna be powerful. We need really good rules around it. But well, it's going to show up in airline apps, in your car apps, in shopping apps. And I think most of them, you know, big commerce platforms, or have a kind of wallet strategy of some sort or other at the moment, the banks do, the telcos are thinking about it. If you push a bit further, I think healthcare will be one of the biggest places for it, because private data, your data's in tonnes of places. It can't trust it. But guess what, it's heavily regulated. So they'll be a bit slower, but it will come.

Tracey Follows  32:28

Now that's an interesting conundrum particularly for the UK, I think, because obviously, we've had kind of one login rolling out. Which is about being a kind of gateway to your public services. One could argue that that is or will evolve into a wallet, let's say - it's a digital identity or something at the minute. Now health care - how would one login interface with your customer futures wallets? the sort of the public sector services that we may or may not enjoy? With the commercial services that we obviously pay for or subscribe to? How are those going to overlap or interface?

Jamie Smith  33:10

Again I want to pick it apart because there's the wallet as a place to put my digital stuff. And it can be you know, watermarks and provable and revoked and that kind of stuff. That's subtly different to login and authenticate the identity nerds of authentication. And I think they are related but different problems. You know, when I'm logging in, I need to make sure is this returning thing entitled to access this part of the website or this resource or do this thing? You know, it's kind of an authentication stack, you know, are we allowed to let this person in, and that might be very well different from needing any information from the wallet. So what I mean by that is, I could connect my wallet to a service. So let's see, I could see, he says, Let's go to our hospital. This is me and I'm on board in a certain way. And I know I'm bored in the way and biomass was here, but I've also got this, this wallet by the way, it's been accredited is one of the approved ones. And I might kind of connect my wallet or associate my wallet with that account, or that hospital visit. And that means that if that wallet then shows up, they don't need to say hey, we now need all the attributes from everything inside your wallet which you can just see yet no we're happy we can as long as it's this wallet will let it in and know that's moving the trust is a squeezing the air in the balloon, right? There's no moving the trust to how does the wallet know it's Jamie holding it. And so now we've got a slightly different problem around how do we know it's Jamie's face? Or Jamie's pin? And how do we make sure it's Jamie, you know, binding, attaching himself to the mobile phone. Let's see. So I think the wallets are going to show up in really interesting places. You can imagine big tech, mentioned government. I think it's gonna firstly become separate the things and it's gonna be a container for my stuff. And in all those different use cases, right, it when I turn up the government, they say, all right, is it you again? Yes it is. And here's the wallet that I have associated with my government account. But guess what, I'm doing something in this government contact that required data from another department. Maybe you need my council tax details, I actually set that up and received that data and completely different government contact. But now I'm showing up over here to the benefits, for example, or claiming disability, I need to show a council tax number. Well, yes, I can authenticate with my wallet. So yes, as Jamie again. But you can now trust when I share my council tax number, that it really is coming from Jamie. And it really came from the source of the trust. So I think the wallet is going to become a really powerful new way to think about stitching together different services. And I used to kind of have a mental one there. But let's go to the hospital. I might want to share my insurance number. Also my address, also, maybe some medical history. And those can come from different places. And I might log in with my wallet, because it's the wallet that they've already connected and I'm happy they don't need all the data, they just need to know what the returning wallet is Jamie? And then they can say, Oh, by the way, for this visit, you need to share this blob of information - I say yes. So I think what's going to become this really interesting new way to show up at organisations. One - I'll be able to connect my wallet to that organisation so they can trust and it's me again, but two - once we've created that lovely connection between the wallet in the organisation, they can pay me and say, Hey, we need that bit of information. And that is where we get true digital transformation on the side of the business.

Tracey Follows  36:53

Because the problem with that, well, there were many problems with Verify, but one of them was that it didn't really connect over from private enterprise or commerce to the public sector. So the public sector, in various guises might, or government might know lots of things about you, whether you're on welfare, what your NHS number is, etc, etc. But they didn't really know anything you were doing with brands or corporates or in a commercial sector. And then if you had separate sort of identity credentials, they weren't connected to the government. So there was literally no crossover. And now one can argue that that crossover is a good thing, because you get to true interoperability, as you say, true digital transformation wheels oiled for commerce and all that, or one could argue that's really scary and frightening, because I don't necessarily want any crossover between officials and what I'm doing in my personal private life or through commerce. I think you could argue it both ways. But I was just interested in your point of view about how far you think that could go, you know, in the crossover.

Jamie Smith  37:55

Wouldn't it be interesting in the future you could replace the existing census questions really, which are really kind of, you know, claimed information with actual behavioural information. Really, if you linked up all that.  I mean that could be quite frightening, but also could be quite enlightening. You could get some really interesting stats on the kind of census wide

Jamie Smith  40:20

Researchers and academics have been thinking about this idea of collective intelligence for quite a while. How do we think about the smarts of 100,000 people? Again, if I attach these kind of plugins or extensions to my wallet, why wouldn't I anonymously share some information with cancer research with a census organisation? So how many people you know, self assert this week, or have got a passport? You know, and you're, I think market research is going to be on its head. Now, I think we very, very dangerously veer into digital divide, data divide, the haves and have nots, you know, and from an eIDAS point of view, we've seen what's going to be 80% of adoption. Well that's a very deliberate number, because there's a bunch of stuff that certain demographics, you just we're gonna get to. Some people won't be able to have it, some processes won't be able to be digitally enabled by design, and we should absolutely not have that it's lonely, or an exclusionary process for anything. If you've got to have a digital wallet, I think we're in a very dangerous place.

Tracey Follows  41:20

This is what's frightening about its veering into social engineering. I think this is partly why people are very worried about it. I mean, it's a bit like the information/misinformation era that we're in at the moment. I'm worried about misinformation but I'm nowhere near as worried about misinformation as I am about missing information. There's so much that's not reported. It's not spoken about that's deliberately designed out of the communication system and the media landscape. I imagine that happening with tools like this, or the interaction with tools or access, that you're deliberately designing out some people or companies or whatever, from accessing all of this, because, well, there is no justification really, just because you can. So I think that's one of the things that people are increasingly worried about, and particularly because they're sort of linking some of this with Central Bank digital currency. I think there is a fear around where this all goes

Jamie Smith  42:17

Completely and use the word deliberately there. And I think there's just clumsiness as well. I think accidentally, excluding whole swathes of society. You know, think about online banking, it's been largely helpful, it's been largely helpful for access and financial literacy and so on. But guess what, we've now shut a bunch of branches, a bunch of people now can't go and see a teller or have a conversation about the finances. So in the UK, at least, the Post Office is stepping in to build community branches where banks can, you know, if they will actually will provide some kind of banking tools or access for you where we can't... So wallets and all this kind of exciting, new tech is neutral. It's gonna be good things and bad things. Browsers are neutral. You can use them for exciting things and cat pictures and online banking. But we can also fall down the misinformation, rabbit hole and have infinite scroll, you know, all these things are going to be built on top of, and I think we don't yet know what's going to happen. You know, I think it's a bit just like with AI, it's probably 9010 like 90% exuberance and excitement and where it could go and solving cancer. But there's only 10% People say, well hang on, what about and how do we think about guardrails and ethics and stuff? And I think the same things broken up with wallets. You know, I think there's probably 90% of it. Let's digitise experiences and maximum temps and people think well hang on, what are the unintended consequences? Who are we leaving out? It might be fine if we're optimising an onboarding flow for a bank. What if you're, you know, the wrong gender sexual orientation? Race, in a regime that is actually enforcing digital wallets on everyone. So I think we need to be very, very mindful about how this is rolled out and regulated. I think there are some thoughtful people working on it, but we need to be slow and careful, I think is the answer.

Tracey Follows  44:12

I think it needs more public consultation. I don't think you need to engage with the public. But that's an ongoing theme in this podcast, actually. Through nearly every single episode how do you engage people in digital identity? Acknowledging that that's a horrible phrase and it's quite a transactional phrase, it's not the most engaging kind of title for it.

Jamie Smith  44:33

In the conversations I've been part of people are calling for more social science involvement, psychologists. You know, thinking about how's this gonna play out. Again, there's that word ceremonies that kind of shows up like how do I present my information? And what's it going to feel like when should I be able to get an insurance, you know, life insurance policy in three taps? Probably not. You know, I've written a bit about this idea of good friction versus bad friction. You know, a dark pattern is the bad friction. You know, and things can be too fast. We should be thinking about good friction. In fact, I know back in the Verify days as UKGov.verify, for its many challenges and issues, they did some brilliant work on good friction on the onboarding flows. And do you really know what's going on? Let's introduce some extra screens to slow you down so you know what's being shared. So I think wallets right now, the default is frictionless, seamless. And I think we need to think very carefully about good friction.

Tracey Follows  45:38

Very good point. So as we just conclude this then what would you like to talk about that we haven't mentioned? Or is there something that brands or corporations should be doing to make themselves get to this next step and embrace customer futures and not let it happened to them, but actually take the initiative?

Jamie Smith  45:57

Honestly, I think this is about the price. You know, we make this very customer citizen centric story about privacy and security and portability. And that's absolutely front and centre. The prize, honestly, if I think about the kind of slightly broader digital economy is we can start to wrap, whole new experiences around the individual, because for the first time, let's call it a digital wallet, but it could be an app or a service - I can now think about an entire customer journey, organised and managed around the individual. So you know, today we think about the businesses in the middle and all the customers and kind of orbiting on this guy. I think there's gonna be a complete inversion, actually, we are going to have the customer in the middle, and all the businesses going round. So it's just like, you know, we used to think the sun needs to go round the Earth

Tracey Follows  46:48

Doc Searles used to talk about this didn't he?

Jamie Smith  46:50

Yeah, so we're gonna get this complete inversion. And so to your point about the business opportunity, I actually think digital wallets are gonna become a new customer endpoint is new customer touch point. And if you think about what just you have to be specific, you said, you know, what can businesses do? If you think about someone who doesn't get a customer engagement, instead of business? What do they want to do, they want to have a trusted, ongoing, valuable relationship with the customer who spend more money and loyalty and trust and stuff. Right now one of the tools that customer engagement lead has, they can send you a text, send you an email, and both of them are pushing their interruptive. Right, so we put up spam filters and, and, you know, we have tools to kind of manage the noise as 'Oh, I got another PDF attachment', or 'I can, I just can't be bothered with it'. And we lose things and we forget to respond to the wrong number. There, push, the other two are pull so the brand can get me to come to their website, fill out some more forms, do the little password dance, it's already clumsy and fill you know, or they can get me to go that route. So they can download another app, create another account, you know, and now suddenly go on a trip, I've got like six apps, like I want to go to the airport, one for the airport once get on the plane, one to share my COVID certificate with the country one, like, those four choices are really bad. I got messages, email, a website or an app. That's how brand engagement goes right now if it's digital, I think digital wallets, whatever, fifth channel, and I don't just mean everyone's all, they're just going to spam me all the time. But guess what, I can just shut that customer connection off. You know, my AI can do that, and say look actually, these messages are interrupted for not adding value. So I think that's the hidden hidden value here is the customer wallets kind of become a really new interesting channel that are authenticated, that have high value data in them that I'm under control. It's transparent, who's interacting with it and what they're doing. And that the customer can see it. You know what, I don't want to receive messages with you or I'm not shopping with you anymore. Just close it. Once the business has my email address as it ever was, No, I can just shut it off. So I'm in control of my experiences, which brands I want to connect with. And by the way, I could now express things that business saying, hey, you know what, I'm interested in a new car. They're like, great, and I've got that new customer channel that's not me going to Google to ask it for a test drive and getting 1000 responses in about three weeks. So I think brands should be thinking about the digital wallet as a new customer engagement opportunity around which is gonna be an exploiter, innovation. That's where I think we should be thinking about things.

Tracey Follows  49:24

I like it. It's like each individual treating themselves as a business and they've got a front desk.

Jamie Smith  49:29

Completely. So flip it, Everything can be flipped. So rather than me subscribing to the business, why doesn't the business subscribe to me? Guess what? Why would I let them do that? Well, they're going to create value for me. Why would they do that? Well, they're going to create more loyalty, more value. You know Nike, to build a shoe has to know everything about running. Now I might buy the shoe but think if they could use that channel to just help me with my zero to 10k journey that becomes really interesting. You know to sell a mortgage you have to know lots about debt and lifestyles and help me do things in my life. Don't send me messages, don't get to download the app, think about the customer engagement journey through the lens of a digital wallet. I think that gets really interesting.

Tracey Follows  50:15

Okay, so how do people find you if they want to talk to you about this more or if brands do want to put themselves on this sort of journey, this roadmap to customer futures?

Jamie Smith  50:27

Probably the best thing is to go to . All my details are there and what I think about the future of personal AI and digital wallets and much of what we talked about today.

Tracey Follows  50:35

Brilliant. Well, thanks very much, Jamie. It's been very interesting to talk about wallets - even though we both think that might not be the right word. We can't find a better one right now (laughs) but maybe we will in the future.

Jamie Smith  50:46

Brilliant. Well, thanks so much for having me. It's been a pleasure.

Tracey Follows  50:54

Thank you for listening to The Future of You hosted by me Tracey Follows. Check out the show notes for more info about the topics covered in this episode. Do like and subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts. And if you know someone you think will enjoy this episode, please do share it with them. for more on the future of identity in a digital world and for the future of everything else. The Future of You podcast is produced by Big Tent Media.


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