Wallaby Card doesn’t hop over other digital wallets

Do you have a lot of credit cards? Do you find it difficult to know which one to use at any time to earn the most rewards? Do you wish you didn’t have to carry all those cards around?

Then the Wallaby Card may be for you. It’s described as:

"An advanced cloud-based digital wallet that stores the information about each of your existing credit cards and automatically picks the best card to charge in each transaction, based on your preferences."

You swipe the card and sign just like a normal card. However, Wallaby is not a real debit or credit account. It simply routes the transaction to one of your cards, apparently the one that maximises the reward for what you just bought.

So if you’re at a restaurant, and you have a card that earns triple points at restaurants, Wallaby picks that card.

The next big thing?

That depends on how many people will be willing to pay an annual fee of $50 for this convenience — right now the service is in beta and is free for 6 months.

Keep in mind that Wallaby doesn’t actually pay you extra rewards; it just “maximises” your own rewards.

Are you likely to forget to pull out that triple points card when you need it? Are you really leaving at least $50 on the table each year by not knowing which card to use on each occasion?

Let’s say you currently earn $100 worth of cash back or points in a year — can Wallaby improve on that by at least 50%?

Wallaby thinks it can and points out the common issues with today’s credit card and award program trends on its website in this infographic:

Complications in Credit Card Land, Provided by Wallaby Financial at www.walla.by

But what’s Wallaby’s downside?

Since Wallaby is not a credit account, there’s no credit check and no impact on your credit score. However, Wallaby needs both personal and card information in order to link to your cards. This could be a major security risk.

According to the company, it also “connects you to exclusive marketing offers,” meaning that your purchase activity will be provided to other companies so they can target products and services to you.

You still need to pay your credit card bills to the same issuers. It also appears that Wallaby may not be able to deal with rotating reward categories or add-on programs like Upromise.

Wallaby seems to occupy the white space between traditional credit cards and new technologies, such as Google Wallet. Part of the selling proposition is that it functions within the existing payments system, so that acceptance is not an issue. This is certainly an advantage in the short-term.

But doesn’t it seem inevitable that plastic will someday go the way of 8-tracks? Wallaby says it’s keeping an eye on the trends, but that it’s focused on the physical card for now.

Even without the promise of more efficient rewards, the ability to carry one card instead of many is appealing.

But this is a problem that consumers could easily solve on their own by consolidating their accounts, and it’s probably not worth $50 to have someone do it for you.

Would you pay 50 bucks a year to make sure you don’t pull out the wrong card at the gas pump and cost yourself 50 cents? Wallaby has a pretty interesting idea for those who regularly play rewards card roulette, but it’s a big question whether this is a product for the mainstream or even the long haul.

- Mike Weisberger

SVP, Vantis


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