Tech giants - and startups like Square - want you to use your phone to pay for everything from gum to train rides. Here's how they plan to achieve cash-free nirvana.
And it's not just innovative startups like Square that hope to reinvent payments for the mobile era, but also everyone from mega-technology companies to financial institutions, giant telecoms, and national retailers. Until those companies agree on common technology standards and platforms, mobile payments won't work across devices, wireless networks, credit card types, and retailers.
Yet once these issues are sorted out -- and with so many billions at stake, they will be -- cash will find itself on the endangered-species list. Paying by phone will be as transformative as the advent of the credit card in the 1950s. It will change the way we shop and bank.