Slideshow 6 Final Frontiers of Mobile Payments

  • May 06 2016, 2:09am EDT
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Mobile wallets may not have eliminated cash and cards, but they are becoming almost unavoidable in many retail settings. However, there are still a few areas where mobile technology is slow to arrive.

Government Benefits

Prepaid cards have modernized the way funds reach recipients of government benefits, but mobile tech was slow to follow. Users of the Direct Express benefits card only recently got an option for mobile account access.

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Integrated Rewards

Mobile payments and rewards often mix poorly. Many mobile wallets use NFC for payments and bar codes for reward cards, but the department store Kohl's is working to bridge the gap by making the accrual of loyalty points automatic for shoppers that use its credit card with Apple Pay.

Making a Clean Getaway

Many mobile wallets are short-lived, and their corpses litter the mobile app landscape. Despite Android Pay's 2015 launch eliminating the need for Google Wallet, companies such as Uber still accepted the earlier mobile wallet and are only now cleaning up their interface to let Android Pay own the spotlight.


CVS used to accept all Near Field Communication-based mobile wallets, until it abruptly shut off its NFC readers to show solidarity with the Merchant Customer Exchange following the 2014 launch of Apple Pay. Another pharmacy chain, Rite Aid, did the same — but turned NFC back on in mid-2015. Other MCX participants, such as Best Buy, have also warmed to Apple Pay, so what's holding CVS back?

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Sit-Down Dining

Unless it's a setup like an airport food court, sit-down dining establishments have been slow to advance beyond cash and magstripe cards. Part of the issue is restaurants have to contend with other upgrades, such as EMV, and their model of taking payments is nearly universal throughout the U.S.

In-Flight Payments

Since airlines are adamant about turning off phones' wireless capabilities during flight, it may not occur to passengers that they can use Apple Pay to purchase food and upgrades. Though companies such as JetBlue have the right tech in place, in-flight mobile payments have still lagged the use of mobile tech for other travel services such as ticketing and check-in.