New ways to pay beyond cash or plastic

By Marcie Geffner -

Cash, check, plastic credit cards or debit cards had been the only ways people paid for products and services. But today, new technologies have given consumers a dizzying array of other options as well.

Chief among them are mobile wallets.

A mobile wallet can turn a smartphone into an access device to connect with a payments network, says George Peabody, senior director at Glenbrook Partners, a payments research and consulting firm in Menlo Park, California.

"The phone is the most convenient tool (for this purpose)," Peabody says. "It's always within reach, and it's providing the user interface to existing payment vehicles like prepaid or credit cards."

Mobile wallets aren't so different from plastic credit cards in the sense that both types of payments are processed through the same networks, says Jason Oxman, CEO of the Electronic Transactions Association, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group that represents electronic payment companies.

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