Slideshow 7 Ways Mobile Is Moving Beyond NFC

  • September 25 2015, 11:51am EDT
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Competition is heating up among mobile wallet makers, but not everyone is racing toward the same goal. Many are starting to look past Near Field Communication-based contactless payments, championing newer technologies as well as reviving older business models.

Starbucks Mobile Ordering

Despite being a clear success in mobile payments, Starbucks has never implemented an NFC payment process in its stores. Instead, the coffee chain is pushing ahead with cloud-based alternatives, most recently bringing its mobile order-ahead capability to all of its company-owned U.S. stores.

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Carrier Billing

The carrier billing company Boku is also targeting the order-ahead process, with an emphasis on adding remote purchases to the shopper's phone bill. "If you are not directly paying at a cashier or at a ticket agent ... why not use carrier billing?" said Adam Lee, chief product officer at Boku.


Many smartwatches don't have NFC, but they have full access to a data connection, making it possible to initiate payments for things like meal orders. Google demonstrated such a capability when launching its Android Wear platform in 2014.

Dining Payments

Restaurants face unique challenges in determining how to accept EMV-chip cards, which are largely incompatible with the widespread practice of handing a card to a waiter and adding a tip after it has been swiped. Companies like MyCheck are pitching their mobile apps as an alternative that is less disruptive to dining establishments.

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Bluetooth beacons, which are small devices that can communicate with a retailer's mobile app as customers walk throughout the store, are better suited for marketing than payments. But some are already looking to expand its capabilities, including beacon vendor Piper.

Cash Meets Mobile

Most mobile payment systems still rely on credit and debit cards as funding sources, thus creating hurdles for the unbanked. Companies like PayNearMe are expanding their mobile capabilities to make it possible for cash-based consumers to shop online and pay their bills.

Buy Buttons

In-app "buy buttons" are rising in popularity as a way to blend payments seamlessly with other products, including social media and e-commerce platforms. The in-app purchasing capabilities of Apple Pay and Android Pay are fueling this trend.