By Mark Ranta to Consumer Payments

As autumn starts to give way to winter (that frost outside is for reals), it’s getting closer to my favorite season; the flakes will soon start flying, the fruitcakes will soon start arriving at doorsteps, digital holiday shopping will soon hit new heights, and the retro reviews for this year and early predictions for next will soon start to fill my Twitter feed.

So it’s with that, I take a look back at the year (that was, a month or so early) and put out my early calls on what 2016 will have in store on the books (or is that on your device, or is that in your Virtual Reality headset… gave you a sneak there.).

As we take a quick look back at what the last 10.5 months brought, I feel like 3 topics/trends rose to the top:

  • Mobile wallets and or the <INSERT COMPANY NAME> Pay trend
  • Real time payment initiatives in the US
  • And the US’s long awaited toe in the water with EMV or as so many wrongly call it today, Chip & Pin.

I don’t want to harp too much on these and you will see/read why in a moment, but this year was HUGE for payments. We saw the mobile wallet wars ignite into an all-out game of “anything you can do I can do better, anything you can do I can do better than you.” Every time you turned your head in 2015, another mobile pay bit was being announced—Google Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay, Apple Pay and the most recent addition, Chase Pay.

With all of that news, it’s amazing anything else made the short list, but alas, the old creaky systems in the US had the spotlight shone brightly on their underbellies, and announcements from the Fed and NACHA were loud and clear—change is a comin’!

The US will join the rest of the world (at least it feels like the rest of the world) in the chase for real time, ubiquitous payments.

And the final 2015 trend, which I think is the greatest slow-moving momentum story of all time, the EMV liability shift… Black Friday is merely days away and the term “Cart abandonment” will for the first time refer to actual physical cart abandonment; the shoving lines won’t be going into the store but trying to get out… (maybe slightly dark and over-reacting but those 10 to 15-second wait times are going to really add up when you are tired, haven’t had your Dunkin’ Donuts ‘regulah’, and are carrying a 42” TV that you really don’t need to buy, but you literally can’t say no to—it’s only $99!)

What a 2015 it’s been thus far (and will be as the final 8 weeks scroll by on that ol’/new Apple Watch Calendar)

But enough of the backward/forward reminiscing; we are here to hit on the #buzzwords of 2016 (and some predictions as well)!

  1. #wearables – and I am not talking about fitbits and Apple Watches. Wearables are going to have a new family member join the fray, Virtual Reality headsets. Samsung made a move to bring Oculus Rift to the masses with Samsung Gear VR. In a replay of everything that Samsung and Android have gotten to market with first, VR could be the one that they keep attention and market share away from Apple, only 2016 and beyond will tell.
  2. #biometrics – we saw biometrics slowly and discreetly enter the payments arena with Apple’s Touch ID or Samsung’s Fingerprint Scanner. Whether to unlock your bank’s mobile application or pay for goods at the POS, fingerprint scanning was the first step into using biometrics to authenticate a user. Look for facial recognition to be the next big piece, say it with me… Pay by selfie!
  3. #bankingAPIs – with PSD2 around the corner (and across the pond), the fight for opening up banking APIs to third parties will come home to roost; you saw the initial battle lines drawn this past week from both Chase and Bank of America (with likely more to follow) in terms of dealing with account aggregation sites and sharing customer data. I think this is going to be a hot topic as the year kicks off and likely stay at a rolling boil throughout the year.

Predictions for 2016

  1. Mobile Payments will at least double if not triple in volume for the calendar year in 2016. Maybe a safe prediction, but as the EMV shift continues to bring new POS terminals to market, old iPhones get their long awaited upgrades to the 6 and beyond, Android Pay and Samsung Pay reach their clients en masse, and new smart watches enter the market (I am eyeing the new Tag Heuer –, more options that are at least as convenient as EMV cards (if not more convenient) will lift this space dramatically over the course of the next 12 months.
  2. Olympic Golds will be awarded to athletes, but no medals will be handed out for the winner of the mobile payment wars. We have at least another 3-5 years before the dust settles or the battlefield shifts; either way it’s going to be fun to watch Rio from afar… I will offer now to do investigative reporting on payments from Copacabana beach (DM me if you are interested in sponsoring this little trip…)
  3. P2P will be the biggest trend feature in the mobile wallet space, followed by coupons/offers. Chase Pay and MCX will likely drive this conversation but Apple, Samsung and Android will not be far behind.

And here’s an added bonus one for you—just because you’ve read this far! 2016 will be longer and more fruitful than 2015 #leapyear – yeah that’s right, we get one extra day next year to talk about payments… so here’s to a great 2015, and an even better 2016! Happy holidays everyone! And may your checkout lines be swift!

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