Have you ever given money to the Red Cross after seeing a television spot asking you to text a specific number? In the wake of disasters over the past several years, the Red Cross and others pioneered this method, known as carrier billing, of raising funds electronically.

Many observers, enthused by the success of the Red Cross, predicted that this technology would one day win the battle for mobile payments. Or, perhaps even more revolutionary, could Sprint (NYSE:S), Verizon (NYSE:VZ), and AT&T (NYSE:T) use this technology to make Visa (NYSE:V) and MasterCard (NYSE:MA) obsolete?

The revolution that could have been
Visa and MasterCard, the world's largest two payment processing networks, would be left in the cold as billions of dollars of transactions could now flow over the telecom infrastructure. The billions of dollars in fees could then lift Sprint, Verizon, or AT&T to previously unimaginable profits! This was a revolution in the making!

Well, as so often happens, the predictions of many turned out to be quite wrong. According to Brandon Workman of Business Insider Intelligence, carrier billing has found a nice niche in the mobile payments space, but it will never become more than that. 

Instead, the convenience of products offered by Square, among others, has led to a mobile payment revolution alright, but one that keeps Visa and MasterCard squarely in the mix. 

In the video below, I interview Brandon to pick his brain on carrier billing, what could have been, and what in fact has happened. In the end, it's good news for the Red Cross, as well as Visa and MasterCard.

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Fool contributor Jay Jenkins has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends MasterCard and Visa. The Motley Fool owns shares of MasterCard and Visa. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.