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The Credit Cards of the Future

Stocks in this article: V MA AXP C

Some of these products have been adopted by major financial institutions. Last year, Citi (C) announced a Thank You 2G card, which allows its cardholders to pay with their credit line or rewards points. US Bank (USB) has offered its Mastercard (MA) Pay Pass VITAband -- essentially a wristband that gives its wearer the ability to make purchases via a reloadable prepaid chip -- since July, and Fifth Third Bank (FITB) introduced a dual credit/debit card in September.

But thus far, these products have failed to trigger a full on revolution. Citi debuted its 2G card at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2011, but has yet to offer it to the mainstream public.

"It is available to a small group of people and is something we are continuing to accept feedback on," a Citi spokeswoman said.

Hornblass believes mass adoption has been delayed because no bank or issuer is featuring a product advanced enough to inspire consumers to switch from what they are used to. Citi and Fifth Third's cards, for instance, don't have a feature that allows for secure contact-less payments, while US Bank's wristband doesn't link to multiple accounts.

"If the payment method doesn't have the full menu of innovations available, that's a strike against it," he says, adding that many of these products may cost the issuer more to provide than a traditional credit card would.

These complications have led to a wave of innovations that focus on adding to what the credit card can do without having to change the plastic itself.

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