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Meet the mobile payment services vying to replace your wallet

Anthony Domanico | Sept. 4, 2014
Forget fit tech. Wave goodbye to wearables. The next great frontier in mobile might just be your wallet.

Apple Passbook
What it is: If you're an iOS user, Apple's Passbook is one of the best digital wallet apps out there. Passbook stores your loyalty cards, store coupons, boarding passes, event tickets, and other types of mobile payments that can be redeemed at local retailers. You can't store credit or debit cards to use for mobile payments, at least not yet. Apple is currently prepping iOS 8--and, in all likelihood, some new mobile devices that will run the updated operating system--and rumors point to Apple launching a full-fledged payment service this fall, reportedly with the backing of major players such as American Express, Visa, and Mastercard.

What it's best suited for: We'll have to wait a week or so to learn whether you'll be able to buy things just by waving your iPhone 6 around. Until then, if you're locked into Apple's iOS ecosystem, Apple Passbook is one of the best virtual wallet solutions for you. It's deeply integrated into iOS, and dozens of applications offer Passbook integration so you can easily store and redeem passes from the Passbook app.

How you use it: To use Apple Passbook, you can scan your loyalty and gift cards using your iOS device's built-in camera, or you can add content from one of the several dozen Passbook-enabled apps on the App Store. From the Starbucks app, for example, you can add any Starbucks gift card balances into your Passbook, and Passbook will display an on-screen barcode for the barista to scan. The same goes for event tickets with Eventbrite, boarding passes with several individual airlines, and coupons from the likes of Target and REI.

Where it's accepted: Passbook is accepted at a few dozen retailers including Target, REI, and Home Depot as well as several major airlines such as Delta, American, and British Airways. In total, there are 38 Passbook-related apps on the App Store, so there are some limitations. If Apple expands its payment service this fall, the number of retailers will likely expand; for now, though, you're limited to the few dozen or so services that have built Passbook into their apps.

What it is: Among the services listed here, PayPal is the seasoned veteran, having been around since the late '90s. PayPal is almost ubiquitous with online payments, and didn't miss a beat when the world started going mobile. The company's mobile payments app, also called PayPal (available for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone) lets you check in to local restaurants and businesses to pay for your purchases with your connected bank accounts, cards, or PayPal wallet balance. You can also send money to friends and family for free as long as you use your PayPal balance or a connected bank account.


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