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TheStreet Open House

Apple Could Kill Off Visa

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I've always thought that credit card giants MasterCard (MA) and Visa (V) had two of the best advertising campaigns of all time, though they went in somewhat different directions in terms of theme.

MasterCard adopted some humor, having NFL star Peyton Manning, among others, engage in everyday mortal chores and activities, reminding us that, except for several million extra dollars in his bank account, he's just like you and me.

Visa on the other hand has always reminded consumers, with the smooth voiceover of actor Morgan Freeman, that "It's everywhere you want to be." To be perfectly honest, I have not been able to find anyplace yet where Visa is not accepted -- and trust me, I've searched.

Not to be outdone, even Capital One (COF) has entered the comedic scene with actor Alec Baldwin -- another brilliant campaign.

But I'm starting to get the sense that these card companies, many of which have introduced convenience to the payment process, could be in trouble. Although they were successful at convincing consumers that it is best to leave their cash and checkbooks at home, it is not out of the realm of possibility that they could soon become the dinosaurs of the payment process, if they don't adapt.

The one thing consumers can't ever be without is their cell phones. That's why vendors like Starbucks (SBUX), which recently formed a partnership with Square, are becoming more open to the idea of mobile payments, a new craze that has the potential to eventually become the world's currency.

If this happens, it would mean that in addition to seeing Visa and MasterCard logos on the doors of your favorite store, you will see logos of Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG). Consider this, the new popular payment option might change from Visa to "VZ," as in Verizon (VZ). Trust me, it's not as crazy as it sounds.

The concept of mobile payments is not new and has been around for years. Its acceptance has just been slow. But it seems as though its time has now come, and the ubiquity of mobile devices can no longer be ignored.

In addition to Starbucks, companies such as McDonald's (MCD), which has just partnered with eBay's (EBAY) PayPal unit, now have no choice but to embrace the idea if they wish to stay competitive and minimize loss revenue due to excessively long lines.

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