Payments is the most exciting sector of technology right now. Start-ups are innovating new products daily and investors are rushing to place their bets on the newest, smartest solutions.

The attention payments is receiving makes perfect sense; it's a $5 trillion and growing industry that embraces disruptive technology and offers amazing new growth opportunities. At the recent TRANSACT 15, all the major players in the payments industry were showcasing the future of payments technologies. Based on my experience at TRANSACT, here are three predictions for the coming year.

Mobile Payments Are Here to Stay

This is the year that mobile payments take off. A recent study by ETA and global management and strategy consulting firm Strategy& found that 40% of consumers are utilizing mobile devices to shop. According to Juniper Research, the number of contactless transactions via mobile handset are projected to exceed 9.9 billion globally by 2018, up from 3 billion expected this year.

The mobile phone is the new payments form factor, and global technology companies are racing to deploy payments innovations for merchants and consumers. Apple Pay's launch in October brought mobile payments to the forefront of consumer consciousness. Google recently acquired Softcard technology and announced a deal with AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile for Google Wallet. Finally, Samsung--the world's largest mobile device manufacturer -is set to launch Samsung Pay on the new Samsung Galaxy S6 this summer.

Partnerships Are Key to Advancing Payments Technology

Industry giants are embracing disruptive technology and partnering with other companies to deploy cutting edge products. For example, payments titan Visa demonstrated a commerce-connected car at TRANSACT 15. The connected car, led by Visa, and developed with Pizza Hut and Accenture, combines innovative payment and mobile technologies to test in-car purchase experiences that are designed to be secure, convenient and easy. While the initial focus is on ordering food at a quick service restaurant, the technology can also be applied to other everyday consumer purchases including gasoline, transit and parking and drive-through retail. There are ample opportunities for start-ups to partner with leading payments companies to deploy game-changing technologies. A truly innovative product or service, ease-of use, and security are all key to catching the attention of the next industry leader seeking a partner.

Digital Currency Enters the Mainstream

Bitcoin's growing role as a global payment option was in the spotlight at TRANSACT 15 with the latest Bitcoin products and services from companies, including BitPay and Bitnet, on display in the World of Bitcoin. Research released by ETA and Goldman Sachs at TRANSACT 15 found that digital currencies like Bitcoin have shown a significant uptick in adoption among payments processors with 11% now supporting Bitcoin payments, up from 2% in Fall 2014, and 23% planning to support Bitcoin payments within three years.

We are at a revolutionary cross-road in electronic payments. There is endless room for innovation, and consumers are increasingly open to adopting new methods of payment that make their shopping experience easier and more personal. Take these three payments trends and build on them--next year I might be featuring your payments innovation at TRANSACT 16.