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Have smartphone, will travel

Google has rolled out new features to their Hotels search.

Packing for holidays, road trips or even getting ready to hit the sales is about to get much, much easier.

No matter how well you've packed or how many pre-vacation lists you've made, there is always that moment of horror at the check-in desk or at security when you think you've forgotten your passport or ID.

However, within the next decade it's a strong possibility that everything from physical passports and driving licenses to boarding passes will be obsolete and that for the average consumer, traveling without borders will be the norm -- as long as they haven't forgotten their smartphone, that is.

"More than 220 biometrically enabled smartphone models are currently on the market," said Maxine Most, Acuity Market Intelligence Principal and lead analyst. "By 2018, all smartphones will include biometrics and by 2020, feature phones will be obsolete."

Biometric authentication, whether via a fingerprint or iris scan, is already helping to counter fraud, simplify physical and online payments and personal data security for owners of flagship Apple and Android phones.

And the popularity of Apple Pay in the US plus the fact that the two most popular smartphones on the market -- the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy S -- are fingerprint scanner-enabled means that a number of US states are testing the waters with smartphone based driving licenses, as is the UK and Australia.

And according to US-based Acuity Market Intelligence this first step could lead to a completely physical credential-free existence or many people before 2030.

"We are in the early stages of developing global standards for digital identity. Smart virtual credentials enabled by biometrics are an important step," said Most, who points to how quickly the technology is disrupting the way people pay for goods and services.

"By 2025, biometric authentication will be standard for trillions of annual payments and information transactions and by 2030 physical payment mechanisms such as debit and credit cards will become inconvenient and increasingly not accepted. Secure, anonymous biometric authentication will replace multiple forms of identification and payment mechanisms."

However, as popular as Apple Pay and Android Pay are becoming, the biometric revolution hasn't happened just yet. So, if you're heading on your summer vacation, don't forget your physical ID and your wallet.