Most mobile wallet providers and retailers have been hunting for the magic formula that would seamlessly blend loyalty and mobile payments, in the hopes that one would inevitably fuel the other. But it's a delicate recipe, and very easy to get wrong.

Starbucks can point to a successful, closed-loop mobile wallet and rewards program, and its secret was that it never considered rewards to be subservient to payments; the company continues to nourish its rewards and gift card programs independent of its mobile strategy. Walmart is following this example with Walmart Pay, a mobile payment system that builds onto mobile services such as its Savings Catcher price-matching system.

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