Slideshow 7 Payment Pilots that Never Took Off — and Why

  • August 16 2013, 11:01am EDT
8 Images Total

As the Isis mobile wallet comes out of pilot, it's important to note that not every emerging payments initiative makes it this far. But in experiments, any result can be valuable if the companies behind the test find something to learn from it. (Image: ThinkStock)

Google Wallet Plastic Card

Late last year, images surfaced of a plastic card meant to be tied to Google Wallet accounts. The card, a Discover product, was scrapped before it was released. The reason? Google CEO Larry Page determined it was too glitchy. (Image: Bloomberg News)

Content Continues Below

Bitcoin Debit Card

In August 2012, BitInstant promised that within two months, it would launch a debit card that would let users access their Bitcoin balances at any merchant that takes MasterCard. As recently as this April, the company said the card was "still in the works" and hinted at a launch "in the coming months." One possible issue is the ongoing turmoil surrounding Bitcoin regulation — to address this, BitInstant's CEO helped create a self-regulating body for virtual-currency companies. (Image: ShutterStock)

Citi 2G Card

Citi has taken a chance on many experimental products. The Citi 2G Card, a reprogrammable magnetic-stripe card built by Dynamics, was supposed to launch in 2011. A full year later, it still hadn't emerged from testing. The product was "solving a theoretical problem rather than a real one," one analyst said. Dynamics went on to launch a similar card with UMB Bank.

Citi Obopay Mobile Payments

Citi was ahead of its time in testing mobile person-to-person payments with Obopay. After a two-year test, Citi decided in 2010 not to launch the product. "The market just isn't ready yet," a Citi exec said. Citi later offered mobile P2P payments with Fiserv's Popmoney. (Image: ThinkStock)

Content Continues Below

Citi/MasterCard NYC Transit Trial

New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority began testing a way to use Citi-issued contactless MasterCards to pay for fare at the turnstile in 2006, eventually expanding it to other networks and issuers. The experimental system did not fare well — too few banks were issuing contactless cards to make the system a practical alternative to the mag-stripe MetroCard. (Image: Bloomberg News)

PayPal, Bling Nation

PayPal's early push at the physical point of sale involved a rising star in payments, Bling Nation. The partnership's demise may be tied to Bling's bigger issues — the mobile-payment startup's clients fled in response to a change in how Bling handled loyalty. "They wanted to start charging for a loyalty type program [and] at that point it wasn't feasible to use them," said one former Bling merchant after the company shut down in 2011.

Hersheypark Wristbands

Hersheypark had a sweet idea: offer waterproof contactless payment wristbands to patrons as a way to let them leave their wallets in their lockers. The initiative failed for a simple enough reason: no one wanted to use the wristbands. "The numbers the last two years are very low," a spokeswoman said after the program shut down. (Image: Bloomberg News)