10 Mobile Payment Systems from the Cell Phone Stone Age
What did mobile wallets look like before Apple and its peers invented the consumer smartphone market and launched App Stores to distribute systems like Passbook, Isis and Google Wallet? (Image: Shutterstock)
In 2006, Bank of America's BankBoston unit in Brazil began distributing Nokia handsets to businesses and wealthy consumers. It let individuals initiate transfers of up to $12,000 a day. Corporate customers could not initiate transfers, but they could use the device to approve transfers of any size.
Years before the debut of Google Wallet, Google in 2007 applied for a patent on a text-message payment system it called "Gpay." By that time Google had launched its Checkout online payment system, and it may have already decided to shutter work on Gpay. "Prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patent applications," a Google spokesman said at the time. (Image: ThinkStock)
Sapphire Mobile Systems, founded in 2005, let users initiate money transfers with text messages. It entered a test with U.S. Bancorp's Elan in 2007 and later that year was rebranded as Mpower Mobile Inc. following an investment by Mpower Ventures. Its technology was then used with another Mpower company, Mango Financial. (Image: Shutterstock)
Obopay launched in 2005 with a system that let consumers move money with their phones, either as text messages or through pre-smartphone apps that had to be downloaded through carriers. Though it marketed its system to young, mainstream consumers, Obopay quickly found an audience with the unbanked as well. (Image: Thinkstock)
In 2007, Cellular South Inc. began testing a service called WirelessWallet, which used Kyocera handsets with built-in Near Field Communication chips. Cellular South, now known as C Spire Wireless, also used Obopay's person-to-person payment system. (Image: Shutterstock)
PayPal wasn't originally an online payment system when it launched in 1998. One of its earliest products was designed to transfer funds between the hot handheld of the time: the Palm Pilot. However, since the transfers could not be completed without syncing the Palm devices to a computer, PayPal quickly cut the devices out of the equation. (Image: Shutterstock)
PayPal in 2006 launched a text-message system that allowed users to initiate transfers from a cell phone. Years later, a PayPal exec said: "It wasn't meaty enough for consumers to use, and we didn't get a lot of adoption." (Image: Bloomberg News)
M-Pesa launched in March 2007, just a few months before the original iPhone. Nairobi-based Safaricom's money-transfer service reached a million users by the end of that year and reached 10 million in mid-2010. (Image: Raidarmax)
Monitise, a UK company, in 2007 brought several mobile payments features to the U.S. market through its Monitise Americas joint venture with Metavante (now FIS). These include bill payment, remittance and person-to-person payments. An analyst called the move "a little premature" for the U.S. mobile phone market. (Image: Thinkstock)
M-Com, or Mobile Commerce Ltd., is a mobile payments provider founded in 2000 in New Zealand. It developed a mobile credit card payment application for Bank of New Zealand in 2002 and a text-based payment system for ASB Bank in 2004. Fiserv bought M-Com in 2011 after working with the company on the Fiserv Mobile Money platform.
What did mobile wallets look like before Apple and its peers invented the consumer smartphone market and launched App Stores to distribute systems like Passbook, Isis and Google Wallet?