silentbrad writes with this quote from the Globe and Mail:"Canada's big banks are preparing to launch 'virtual wallets' as early as this fall that will allow consumers to digitally consolidate their credit and debit cards from any financial institution, and use them to make purchases online and through their cellphones at cash registers. It is being called the biggest change to the way consumers pay for goods in Canada in decades, and for the banks moving quickly into this space, the strategy is about keeping ownership of the vast and potentially lucrative stores of data that are involved in transactions. ... The majority of the banking sector is expected to follow suit in the next year or so, with each financial institution relying on the concept of 'aliases,' where a password lets consumers access their payment cards, but protects personal information from being passed to the merchant. ... Retailers can use the information contained in transactions, stripped of details that violate privacy laws, to tailor offerings or promotions to consumers. And the banks figure they can build a new business from that new world. Location data on phones can help neighborhood stores connect with customers in the area, while transaction data online can give insight into consumer habits and tastes."