I have an emotional attachment to my wallet. It’s worn and a little tattered, but I refuse to replace it.  If Google has its way, I may no longer need it.

A couple of months ago, Google rolled out Google Wallet, giving us a glimpse into the future of payment transactions.  The new service uses NFC (Near Field Communication) to allow consumers to swipe their phones to make payments.

But there’s more to it than that.

Google is embedding itself into lifestyles well beyond search.  And, as it does, it is altering the culture—for merchants and consumers.  Combined with its acquisition of Zagat, for example, the path to purchase for dining will be facilitated by adwords, reviews, offers, rewards, and swiping your phone.

What Google understands is that lifestyle is largely local.  And, for a rising generation of Millennials in particular, lifestyle is the arena where purchasing happens—not necessity-buying or conspicuous consumption, as it was for previous generations.  If a product or service lacks relevance at a lifestyle level, it may as well be invisible.

Google, Groupon, and Foursquare are blazing the trail toward social commerce.  It was only a matter of time before social marketing got linked to direct transactions.  And, it clears the room of the smoke and mirrors that have vexed marketers for nearly a decade as they sought to prove the value of social media campaigns to the bottom line.  Even more fascinating is what this will mean to small businesses.  Up until now, understanding and deploying social media as a marketing tactic has been largely an exercise for bigger brands.

Giving up our wallets won’t happen overnight.  But, as I pack my bags for yet another business trip, I make sure to load my flight info onto my phone. Later, I’ll swipe my phone at security.  The culture is already predisposing me to reach for my phone, not my wallet.

This video (link and following) gives you a glimpse into the future of mobile transactions and how they’ll occur in our daily lifestyles: