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Mobile Payment Soup: Samsung Launches Pay, PayPal Buys Paydiant, Google Wallet Returns

Though hardly a surprise, Samsung introduced its own mobile payment system at the Mobile World Congress yesterday.

Samsung Pay will be included in the Samsung Galaxy S 6, thanks to the recent acquisition of Boston-based LoopPay, which I wrote about here last month (Samsung Buys LoopPay; Mobile Payments March Forward).

Not long after the LoopPay acquisition, Google purchased the technological assets of Softcard, the doomed joint venture of Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, to get Google Wallet back onto the phones that ride along those carriers (Google Wallet Wins; Softcard Bails from Mobile Payments).

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And those moves followed the introduction of Apple Pay, launched along with the iPhone 6 a while back.

So now we have Samsung Pay, Apple Pay and Google Wallet, as the big guns. At least until the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) introduces its payment system, which is different from the other three and comprises yet another massive joint venture, this one including major retailers.

And as an added twist, PayPal today announced it is acquiring Paydiant, the mobile payment engine that runs MCX, Subway and other apps.

But somewhat overshadowed by these mega-announcements are smaller payment systems increasingly being introduced and used by specific retailers.

For example, Neiman Marcus recently introduced its own mobile wallet so that its customers can make payments from the Neiman Marcus app. Subway lets customers pay for food via its own app. You get the idea.

Before mobile, consumers had many card payment choices, such as proprietary cards provided and branded by the merchants as well as those from the likes of American Express.

Mobile wallets seem to shaping up somewhat the same way.

The bottom line is that there is no one-size-fits-all mobile wallet, at least at the moment.

Besides the majors, there are countless mobile payment choices available now, with more on the way.

While most consumers may not be clamoring for a mobile wallet, they increasingly will be faced with the option to pay without using a plastic card.

The longer-term question is when and where each consumer will use which payment method.

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