Slideshow 14 of 2014's Biggest Events in Payments

  • December 26 2014, 11:50am EST
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2014 was a big year for payments. Disruption came from within the financial services industry and from outsiders like Apple and Walmart. Mainstream payment companies had to respond to these new competitors as well as adapt to fresh attention from regulators and fraudsters. (Image: iStock)

Apple Pay Launches

The long-awaited Apple mobile wallet hit the market in October. Apple Pay has support from hundreds of banks, and finally energized consumers about paying with their phones, but has proven divisive within the retailer community. (Image: Bloomberg News)

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CurrentC Enters the Spotlight

CurrentC, the merchant mobile wallet, was largely flying below the radar of the mainstream media until Apple Pay arrived. Some of the retailers committed to CurrentC shut off acceptance of Apple Pay and other mobile wallets, a move that finally made CurrentC a well-known brand — despite the fact that the actual wallet isn't set to debut until sometime in 2015. (Image: Bloomberg News)

M-Pesa Comes to Europe

Vodafone's M-Pesa is extremely well-known for building a mobile money network in Kenya as a service of Safaricom. The service launched in 2007 and had attracted 10 million customers within its first three years. But could the same system thrive in Europe? In 2014, Vodafone brought M-Pesa to Romania as its starting point for European expansion. (Image: Bloomberg News)

Weve's Mission Wanders

The U.K. carriers' mobile wallet changed several times in the past few years. After clearing a number of regulatory hurdles, the initiative debuted in 2012 as Project Oscar, then later changed its name to Weve and shifted its focus to mobile marketing. By September of 2014, the venture had tabled its ambitions to create a mobile wallet. (Image: iStock)

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China's Big Push

Alipay and China UnionPay both went big with global partnerships this year, focusing on providing international travel companies and e-commerce sites access to each company's massive number of consumer accounts. (Image: Bloomberg News)

Walmart Offers a Digital Bank Account

Walmart has bet big on prepaid cards in recent years, but its decision to offer Green Dot's GoBank digital checking account is an admission that prepaid has its limits. GoBank is designed for a longer financial relationship, and is more of a direct competitor to traditional bank accounts. (Image: Bloomberg News)

Debit Interchange, Routing Resolution

A U.S. federal appeals court decision in March, overturning a ruling from 2013 on the Fed's implementation of interchange and routing restrictions set by the Durbin amendment, cleared the way for the card brands and the independent debit networks to reach agreements that enable the use of EMV chip-based debit cards in the U.S. (Image: Thinkstock)

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Political Pressure

Visa and MasterCard were under fire in multiple continents. In addition to the ongoing effects of the Durbin rule and the appeals of the December 2013 settlement in a years-long swipe-fee court case in the U.S., Canada and the European Commission took aim at interchange rates in their own regions. And the U.S. card networks both had to contend with the effects of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, including Russia's move to build a national payment network. (Image: Shutterstock)

Identity Crises

The Isis mobile wallet was steadily building its brand when a militant group, also called Isis, made its brand toxic. Now it's called Softcard. Visa also faced branding issues with its cryptically named digital wallet; the company relaunched the product as Visa Checkout. And SpendSmart, the prepaid card marketer that used to be called BillMyParents, changed its brand once again — the fourth new name the company took in the past five years. (Image: Thinkstock)

Amazon's Mobile-Pay Moves became a new contender for the mobile point of sale, with a pricing model designed to undercut rivals like Square. But the e-commerce giant's mobile card reader was not warmly received; perhaps its mobile wallet will benefit from this experience. (Image: Bloomberg News)

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PayPal's Future Decided

EBay Inc. committed to spin off PayPal after fighting activist investor Carl Icahn's efforts to split off the payments unit. As an independent company, PayPal should have more opportunities to become an ally to eBay's competitors. (Image: Bloomberg News)

Battle for the Wrist

Wristbands became a sudden battleground for mobile payments. Disney reported significant adoption of its payment-capable MagicBands, Apple promised to offer Apple Pay on its upcoming smartwatch, and several issuers in Europe and Canada began distributing bank-branded payment wristbands. Meanwhile, PayPal has been aggressively rolling out apps on several prominent smartwatch platforms, including Android Wear and Pebble. Pictured: Barclaycard's bPay band (Image: Bloomberg News)

Target Breach's Aftermath

Target Corp.'s disclosure of a holiday 2013 data breach kicked off a year-long discussion on security. Some companies vowed to fast-track their conversion to EMV-chip payment cards, while others pushed ahead with their pursuit of tokenization to protect account data in plastic cards, e-commerce and mobile wallets. (Image: Shutterstock)

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Payments Mix with Lending

PayPal and Square now offer capital to small businesses, basing their lending decisions on the sales volume the vendors see through their mobile and online payment systems. This product, launched by PayPal in late 2013 and by Square in early 2014, takes advantage of the payment providers' existing relationships with merchants and pits them head-to-head against traditional lenders such as banks. (Image: Bloomberg News)