The answer seems to be that they are alternatives to the bank-issued, magnetic-stripe powered plastic card. But a more interesting question would be to ask which technologies will provide an alternative to existing business models, not an alternative to existing technologies. In other words, are any of these technologies disruptive? I’d be curious to see what other people think, but my feeling is that both biometrics and NFC have the potential to disrupt business model whereas contactless smart cards (and SMS payments) do not.
My five year predictions, for what they are worth, is that mobile payments will integrate with contactless because of NFC, that biometrics will stay a niche and that the U.S. will start issuing chip cards to deal with CNP even though they won’t use chip & PIN at POS.
My opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public. [posted with ecto]