You may whip out your Palm instead of your credit card to pay for hotel room in the not too distant future. Palm unveiled its new eWallet this week, which uses an infrared beam to conduct payment transactions. After selecting a purchase and agreeing to the price plus tax, a user points his Palm handheld toward a special payment terminal and activates the eWallet by pushing a short-cut button. The user selects a payment method, then enters a PIN. A VISA card is embedded in the Palm eWallet application. In addition to replacing the standard payment-card swipe at retail outlets, Palm believes that over time, the users of handhelds with infrared beaming capability will be able to better manage expenses through accurate and automatic record-keeping; receive eCoupons for products and services; get automatic prompts about personally relevant entertainment or purchases; and always know the status of their loyalty programs, such as those for airline mileage or hotel stays. The company predicts that when the system is fully running, the outlets that will make the most use of virtual card payments will include hotels, restaurants, car-rental companies, clubs, and department stores.