Slideshow 15 Predictions We Got Right—and Wrong—in 2015

Published
  • January 15 2016, 10:37am EST
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A year ago, a few trends were already clear to us, but many were just taking shape. Here's what we told you to expect from 2015, and how each of these predictions played out.

EMV Migration Would Be Mixed at Deadline

RIGHT: We didn't expect full adoption of EMV security across the U.S., but we also didn't expect it to be ignored. Ultimately our prediction was on track, even if many banks and merchants were not.

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Apple Watch Would Fuel Apple Pay

WRONG: We had too much confidence in wearables. By the time Apple Watch came to market, many consumers had already made up their minds about Apple Pay, and the expensive smartwatch did little to sway them.

Starbucks Would Heat Up Its Mobile Payment Tech

RIGHT: Starbucks stayed true to its reputation as an innovator in mobile payments, but its specific moves were hard to predict. Rather than compete with Apple Pay, the coffee chain chose to support it even while it was adding features such as mobile ordering and delivery to its own Starbucks app.

Amazon Wallet Would Launch

WRONG: The Amazon Wallet app that quietly appeared on app stores in 2014 quietly disappeared within the next year. Despite our expectations of something bigger, Amazon actually scaled back some of its consumer-facing payments projects in 2015.

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CurrentC Would Launch

WRONG: Though it set no firm launch date, we held out hope that the merchants' CurrentC mobile wallet would debut in 2015. The app did begin testing and is available for any consumer to download, but it still hasn't set a date for a full nationwide launch.

PayPal Would Spin Off, On Schedule

RIGHT: This plan was already underway at the start of 2015 and as we expected, eBay stuck to its timeline for splitting off its payments unit.

Apple Pay Would Expand Globablly

RIGHT: Though we were correct to expect that Apple would reach more markets in 2015, it did so with much less bank support than it had for its U.S. launch. In Canada, for example, Apple Pay launched with Amex as its only issuing partner.

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Alibaba and Apple Would Team Up

WRONG: Despite hinting at an alliance in late 2014, we were wrong to expect an team-up of the two tech giants in 2015. Apple's plans for China actually seem to pit it as a rival to Alibaba and Alipay

Interactive Cards Must Prove It or Pivot

RIGHT: Interactive card makers like Coin and Stratos faced a tough challenge in 2015, when their magstripe-based products would be forced to adapt to a market that was shifting to EMV. And indeed, these companies took the past year to reconsider their strategies. Coin, for example, is working with MasterCard to adapt its tech for wearables.

Passwords Start to Fade

RIGHT: Old habits die hard, and despite the rise of tokenization, biometric identification and other security technologies, the password is still a staple of payment security. But some companies are inching towards this password-free future by enabling alternatives such as USAA's use of voice and facial recognition.

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Bitcoin Would Fuel Faster Payments

WRONG: Several faster payments initiatives moved ahead in 2015, but bitcoin and blockchain technology are taking less of a spotlight than traditional payment methods such as ACH.

BitLicense Influences Bank Regulation

RIGHT: New York's BitLicense was designed to work as a template for modernizing bank regulation. Though the digital currency is fading from the spotlight, the underlying technology and regulatory framework is still pushed as a way to improve AML and cybersecurity compliance.

Swipe Fee Battle Won't Be Settled

RIGHT: By the start of 2015, we knew to expect that the long-running legal battle over credit card swipe fees would not be resolved any time soon. But things only got more complicated, starting with the February revelation that an attorney who worked for the retailers in both cases appears to have shared confidential client data with an attorney working for the credit card issuers.

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Payment Data Finds New Uses

RIGHT: PayPal and Square use payment data to inform lending decisions, and we expected others to find similarly creative uses for this data. Examples from 2015 include banks buying back their own stolen data to blend among fraudsters, and Amazon.com combining customer relationship management with payments to strengthen its data collection.

Prepaid and Banking Overlap

RIGHT: We predicted that more banks would try to apply the experiences of prepaid card issuance to traditional bank products. Some of the clearest overlap is taking place in mobile, which attracts a similar audience to what prepaid attracted in its early years: Younger consumers who have not yet entered the mainstream banking system.