(Wired) – Remember when 3G was such a big deal that Apple named its new iPhone after what was then the new standard in mobile data transmission? The iPhone 3G, introduced in 2008, was the second iteration of the pioneering smartphone, and in a way the name was as much gloating as it was tribute. When cellular data mostly meant sending crude videos and maybe a song over the network, the old standard was good enough. But the radical new potential for connected mobile computing unleashed by the iPhone meant users would go with whichever carrier could move the most data the fastest. Apple forced the telecoms to up their games, and the competition has yet to cease.
Meanwhile, another kind of network has stagnated. Despite the proliferation of mobile payments companies, from startups like Square to a mobile-revamped PayPal, credit cards remain the standard for paying in-person and online. The money may move digitally, at least after the analog swipe of the card, but it’s still along the same old networks, a kind of parallel internet built to handle credit cards long before the web, much less the iPhone, existed.