December 26, 2000, 9:55 AM

No Small Change

(Page 2 of 2)

Though Providian Financial Corp.’s Aria Personal Shopper wallet applet allows users to put other cards in the wallet, the branding philosophy is similar to Discover’s. “We have a marketing plan focused around wallet functionality,” says Greg Pacheco, Aria credit card business manager for Providian, San Francisco. “At some point it will be a central point of our marketing.”

All agree that wallets must continue to evolve. “Tech companies are fixated on products,” says Joseph Marino, research analyst for Current Analysis Inc., Sterling, Va. “Wallets need to offer a service and be endemic to how we operate on the Internet.” Wallet makers say they’re responding. If and when developers find the way to make wallets into a product consumers see as helpful-even necessary-they will flock to them. Until then, the promise, like so many wallets, may remain empty.

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