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You're in the checkout line ready to pay for the items in your shopping cart. Instead of fumbling with cash or pulling out a credit card, you whip out a smartphone. Inside the handset are chips that make nice with the store's register, and a digital wallet app holds virtual replicas of your plastic debit, credit and loyalty cards. You tap the screen to choose which one you want to use to pay for your purchases, then confirm the amount. An instant later, the transaction is complete.
If the digital future pans out the way that leading banks, credit card issuers, wireless carriers and tech companies hope, scenarios like this could become common.
Folks rarely leave home without their keys, wallets and cell phones. The thinking behind the next advancement in mobile payments -- and it's likely to take years before this vision goes mainstream -- is that all three can be merged into one.
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