Consumers, industry experts remain divided on mobile payments

Category: Payment Processing Technologies

Over the past year-plus there has been plenty of data to suggest that a large and growing number of consumers are getting used to making mobile payments on a regular basis. However, there still seems to be some disconnect between the banking industry and consumers as to just how popular this type of payment platform will become in the next several years and beyond.

One recent poll found that 3 in 5 industry insiders say they believe consumers will one day rely solely upon their digital wallets, eschewing physical cards altogether, according to Compass Plus. However, just 6 percent of consumers - only 3 in 50 - felt that they would even make it their main payment method in the next decade. And while that number was actually down from 7 percent a year earlier, it seems that the issue for many consumers is that they want to be able to be as flexible as possible in their payment options. In all, 42 percent said they wanted to use multiple types of payments as time goes on.

Mobile payments are catching on globally, and will likely do so in the U.S. soon.Mobile payments are catching on globally, and will likely do so in the U.S. soon.

Other trends
Indeed, 62 percent of respondents said that they now had at least one tap-to-pay option that they used at least sometimes these days, and that number has more than doubled from the 29 percent who were in this category just two years ago, the report said. Only about 1 in 8 people with a contactless payment option don't use it, and those people tended to be 45 years old or more, and therefore perhaps just not acquainted with the technology.

Respondents also tended to have a middling view of the security of mobile and contactless payments, the report said. While 63 percent said they felt cash was most secure (and they're right), only about 1 in 4 felt mobile and contactless purchases were the least secure, potentially healing some initial fears people might have had about the latter kind of payment.

Mobile payments driving new device adoption?
Meanwhile, though, new data from Australia shows that the number of Apple Watches and similar devices being sold there might have something to do with consumers' enthusiasm for mobile payments, according to Payment Week. Sales of wearable tech in the first half of the year increased 89 percent on an annual basis.

While experts say falling prices for these devices certainly played a role, so too did the ease of making mobile payments with them, the report said. The fact is "smart watches" didn't initially present as having a lot of practical options for users, but by marketing them as facilitating easier transactions - so people didn't have to pull out their wallets or phones at all - they have gained some traction Down Under.

Merchants in the U.S. should take these findings as object lessons: Widespread adoption of mobile payments is a question of "when," not "if." As such, having the point-of-sale devices in place to handle these kinds of transactions will likely pay off significantly for retailers large and small in the years ahead.