Slideshow 7 Daring Mobile-Pay Ideas

  • December 19 2014, 3:52pm EST
8 Images Total

There is a lot of competition in mobile payments, and sometimes it takes an odd idea for a product to stand out. These banks, card networks and other companies dared to bring something new to the market, but only a few can claim the risk paid off. (Image: iStock)

Winter-Weather Wallet

Barclaycard has never been shy about embedding contactless payments in unconventional things. Its payment gloves are particularly daring because they are most appealing in cold weather, and wearing the gloves makes it a lot more difficult to perform tasks such as fingerprint authentication.

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Staffing Strategy

American Express is looking to hire 200 people with no experience in the payments industry to staff its new Palo Alto location. The idea is to bring in fresh ideas, or to revive ideas that industry veterans dismissed long ago. (Image: Bloomberg News)

New Name, New ... Puppet?

It's no surprise that the Isis wallet changed its name, but it's still a bold move to wipe out a longstanding brand. Its new name, Softcard, may seem tame, but its advertising is decidedly oddball. The wallet's latest ads bet heavily on the appeal of a puppet designed to look like a payment terminal.

Firefly's Fading Light

Amazon built its phone around the concept of mobile commerce and payments, with Firefly software that used the phone's camera and mic to identify any product or media in the real world and order it through Amazon's site. It was a daring move that didn't quite pay off -- consumers didn't want to pay top dollar for a phone designed to further drain their wallets, forcing Amazon to slash the phone's price to a mere 99 cents. (Image: Bloomberg News)

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Fingers Fall Flat

Long before Apple's TouchID, there were biometric payment system called Pay By Touch and BioPay. These systems asked shoppers to press a finger against a special reader at the point of sale. Some big merchants were on board, but the concept quickly lost its appeal.

Square's Cutting Room Floor

Do you remember Business in a Box? Or Card Case, Square's original wallet app? How about its flat monthly fee for payment processing? Square has been quick to implement new ideas, but it has also been quick to discontinue these initiatives when they don't do well. Today's Square is the result of a lot of trial and error in the market.

Beyond the Branch

Amex's Serve digital wallet and prepaid card use an unconventional sales channel: mobile phone stores. As the default payment option for the carriers' Softcard wallet (previously called Isis), Serve gets a chance to enroll a new customer every time someone buys a new smartphone.