NFC was supposed to be the future.

My next phone was going to include the technology, which would let me pay at any cash register by waving my phone instead of swiping my credit card. NFC would also let me touch phones with a friend to share a picture, tap my phone to a speaker to play music, and even unlock my phone with a ring or clip. NFC would someday even replace bar codes, according to Osama Bedier, the one-time head of Google Wallet and unofficial torchbearer of the NFC movement. Google’s contactless payments system was bound to take over the world. Until Google gave up on it.

Carriers blocked the company from deploying Wallet on phones, and retailers outside Mountain View didn’t feel much urgency to upgrade their cash registers with NFC capability. Eventually, Google transformed Wallet into a straightforward PayPal competitor. The best hopes for NFC payment adoption in the US lie with several programs created by carriers (Isis) and credit card companies (MasterCard MasterPass), which only work with a few banks and at select retailers. An NFC payments solution — in the US, at least — is effectively stuck in a stalemate. But a new startup called Loop thinks it has the answer: a wireless payments technology that does what NFC promised to do, all without forcing carriers or retailers to change anything.

Loop comes in two flavors, for now: a $39 key fob and a $99 Mophie-esque ChargeCase. Both devices hold virtual versions of your credit and debit cards, and work at over 90 percent of the country’s credit card machines without retailers having to change anything, according to Loop. The Fob and ChargeCase work only with the iPhone, for now, but they will be compatible with Android in April. In 2015, Loop expects its technology to be built into a variety of phones from its OEM partners.

It’s the NFC dream all over again, except this time it might actually come true.