Cayan’s 2015 Payments Year in Review

What a year it’s been for the payments industry. In the past 12 months, we saw the launches of Android Pay and Samsung Pay; EMV took center stage; we saw several data breaches from big names; and top brands showed off their tech savviness and omnichannel smarts in an effort to win the loyalty of more customers. We can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store, but for now, we’re looking back on a year’s worth of game-changing happenings. Follow along...


When the year began, the industry was already buzzing about mobile payments, and the topic never seemed to fade away. In January, Softcard laid off 60 employees, and rumors started spreading that Google might buy the company. At the end of February, those suspicions were confirmed, and the news broke that the company also made a deal with AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon to have its Google Wallet installed on Android phones right out of the box.
Read More: Accepting Mobile Payments 101: A Step-By-Step Guide


The following month, Samsung made its own mobile moves by Acquiring LoopPay. This was on the heels of speculation that the company’s upcoming Galaxy S6 phone would come with mobile payment capabilities. That speculation was correct. The acquisition announcement sparked questions about Apple Pay competition as LoopPay’s technology is compatible with 90 percent of existing POS terminals.
Read more: What We Know About Samsung Pay


The mobile payments news wave continued through March. Facebook announced it was getting into mobile payments by allowing users to link a credit card to its messenger app and click on a dollar sign button on their chat screen to send money to friends. Then, Chase announced the pilot program of Chase Pay, after a successful run supporting Apple Pay. Then, Google revealed the biggest mobile payments news of the month: It was rolling out a service called Android Pay, supported by NFC with an open API that would allow other mobile payments companies to integrate it into their services.
Read more: 4 Ways NFC Technology Can Make Your Business Safe


Still six months out from the EMV liability shift deadline, food store and pharmacy representative group Food Marketing Institute thought it could push the deadline. They contacted Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover, asking to move the date to 2016. It goes without saying that their request was not granted, but in response, the National Association of Federal Credit Unions did request that lawmakers give more support to merchants during the transition to EMV readiness.
Read more: Leader or Laggard? When and Why Small Businesses Are Preparing for EMV


At the end of May at Google’s I/O event, the company officially announced Android Pay, the NFC-enabled payment system that would go on to rival Apple’s platform. Rollout of Android Pay wouldn’t happen until September, but the stage was set. Google’s previous payments endeavor, Wallet, moved to the peer-to-peer payments space. Samsung also announced it would be discontinuing Samsung Wallet on June 30.
May also saw a big-name data breach from Sally Beauty—the second one in two years.
Read More: What You Need to Know About P2P Payments


On the heels of Android Pay, Apple announced upgrades to its own payment service at its developer conference in June. Among them were the name shift from “Passbook” to “Wallet” and the syncing ability of cards from stores like BJ’s Wholesale Club and JC Penney with the release of iOS 9. The company also shared the ability to add rewards cards from certain stores.
Read more: Android Pay Rollout 101: What Businesses Need to Know About the Latest Ways to Pay


MasterCard revealed plans to test out facial recognition—a project with Google, Microsoft, Apple and others that would increase security for users when authenticating a purchase. The new approach would let users set up accounts and have the credit card company translate their facial features into code to confirm their identity at the register. The company said that a fingerprint scan will also work for those less comfortable with the new technology.
Read more: Data Breach vs. Fraud: What is the Difference?


Samsung fans (and those placing bets on which mobile payments players will win the day) received more information on the carrier’s payment platform this month. After already launching in Korea, it was announced that Samsung Pay would make its stateside debut on September 28—a year after Apple hit the payments scene. Meanwhile, Verizon was not immediately on board with supporting Samsung Pay, though it eventually joined the list of card brands and mobile providers that worked with the mobile wallet.
The EMV Migration Forum and Payments Security Task Force also announced the “Chip-In” initiative this month, aimed at providing key information to those who need to get up to speed on EMV ahead of the liability shift deadline. The program offered weekly emails with guides for training, infographics and other tools for the transition.
Read more: Status Report: One Month into EMV


Months after its initial announcement, Android Pay made its debut, giving shoppers another reason to pull out their phones to pay. The company revealed that additional features, such as loyalty and offers capabilities, would go live later in the year.
Meanwhile, just one month out from the Oct. 1 liability shift, ABI Research published findings that 59 percent of shoppers in the US don’t have EMV-enabled credit cards, and only 32 percent are aware of the industry’s EMV push.
Read More: What Small Businesses Need to Know About EMV


The EMV liability shift deadline finally arrived. While some businesses were prepared, others were not.
Meanwhile, Apple Pay’s one-year anniversary was marked by results from Aite Group that the mobile payment platform hasn’t caught on just yet, accounting for only 1 percent of purchases in the United States. Though, with both Capital One and Chase announcing their own payment offerings in October, the biggest consumer adoption of mobile payments may not have arrived yet.
Read more: What merchants need to know about mobile payments


Just in time for the holiday season, Amazon announced its second foray into payments. With “Pay with Amazon,” users can access their credit card information from their accounts on the shopping site to buy things on third-party apps. You might also start to see more Amazon online payment buttons around the Web.
Murmurs about Bitcoin have cropped up throughout the year, but in November, with adoption numbers lower than many expected, several companies shifted their focus instead to blockchain technology, which powers bitcoin and helps secure other aspects of the payments space.
Read more: 3 Ways to Prepare for the Future of Payments


If you’re feeling like the mobile payments space has gotten crowded this year, you’re not mistaken. In December, Walmart joined the game with its own Android and iOS payment platform. It’s also the first store to join the race for third-party service attention. Expect to see rollout in early 2016.
Xbox also got into alternative payments this month. Now, gamers can open up a store on their device and use a mobile payments service called PowaTag to scan a barcode on the TV screen and pay.
Read more: Why an Omnichannel Approach is Essential to Success
What gets your vote for the top payments story of 2015? Let us know in the comments or send us a tweet @Cayan!