Mobile wallet technology is great -- until the frustrating moment when your smartphone battery dies. Then, not only do you lose your means of communication, you also lose your method of payment.
A number of solutions exist to solve the problem: Duracell's Powermat wireless charger, for example, or the rugged powered messenger bag from Timbuk2.
But sometimes you want something a little more, well, ladylike. That's when you can reach for your EverPurse, a stylish zippered clutch with a built-in phone charger.
Inventor Liz Salcedo started germinating the idea when she was a social worker in Chicago. She relied on her phone for directions, but its battery would typically give out by the end of the day. "I used to drive all over the city, often in neighborhoods of Chicago I wasn't familiar with," Salcedo said. "Between GoogleMaps, GPS, and phone calls, making sure I was always connected was key."
For help with a solution, she turned to her tech-whiz husband, Dan Salcedo, who rigged up a mobile battery charger that could fit in her purse. And voila -- a business was born. The company's Kickstarter campaign quickly topped its $100,000 goal. Last year the couple relocated to Silicon Valley to devote themselves to launching EverPurse full time.
The purse uses the Qi Standard, the same inductive charging technology found in the Duracell Powermat. The base has an induction station with a coil that forms a magnetic induction field. A similar coil within the phone channels the power and converts the energy into a current to fuel the battery. The bag comes in cloth and leather models, in an array of chic styles that fit easily into a larger handbag. The purses cost $129 for cloth models and $159 for leather ones on the Kickstarter campaign.
Salcedo's idea may have come at just the right time. Women are slightly more likely to use smartphones than men, according to 2012 Nielsen data. They may also have a leg up in controlling the digital wallet, as they already account for 85% of all consumer purchases. With smartphones already having an impact on retail sales, it's likely women will be at the forefront of the mobile wallet -- let's call it the mobile handbag -- revolution.
But will women buy it? Belinda Parmar, founder of the website Lady Geek, cautions against the "pink it and shrink it" trend in tech products and accessories geared toward women.
"The EverPurse designers would do well to avoid the most common mistake when designing for women -- to take an existing product and try to make it appeal to women by changing its color and making it slightly smaller," Parmar said.
And Andy Marken, head of the tech-focused strategic marketing firm Marken Communications, wonders whether it's really necessary.
"Unobstrusive fashion items such as EverPurse do more elegantly provide the peace of mind any female would want," Marken said. "Realistically though, the regular iPhone and Samsung smartphone's battery will last 10 hours, which is more than sufficient."
His own wife and daughter, he noted, opted for the compact add-on battery packs from Anker, which supply with enough battery life to sustain the phones for 30 hours. Though Marken appreciates the EverPurse instinct, he's not certain about its viability in the market.
Salcedo is undaunted. "I think it's exciting to see fashion and tech come together," she said. And judging from the responses to the Kickstarter campaign, she's not the only one.