Mobile payments continue to gain momentum

Category: Payment Processing Technologies

It's been quite some time since mobile payments became a point of interest for tech experts, and now after years of predictions about widespread use, it seems that progress is finally being made. While Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and similar services haven't yet reached ubiquity, the number of consumers and businesses relying on these platforms to complete transactions on a daily basis is growing all the time.

A little more than 1 in 8 consumers with the right kind of devices have used Apple Pay at this point, and that adoption rate growth is moving along steadily, according to a report from Mobile Payments Today. And given that more companies on both the payments and merchants sides of the equation are now throwing their weight behind these platforms, it's expected that there could be a significant uptick in use over the next few years.

Mobile payments are becoming more popularMobile payments are becoming more popular

What could that look like?
Some forecasts show that by 2019, more than 1 billion people around the world will be using mobile payments on a regular basis, and some particularly optimistic projections show that about 17 in 20 transactions will be completed with NFC technology of some kind, the report said. The transaction value of such payments in 2014 only totaled $4.77 billion globally, and by 2019 that number could be north of $141.2 billion.

However, the biggest hurdle that could hold back adoption of this sort is, of course, consumer or merchant concerns about the safety of these transactions, the report said. Some might also be worried about convenience. With this in mind, it might be important for adopting merchants and payment processors to highlight that mobile transactions tend to be both faster and safer than swiping a credit card in the traditional way.

A closer look
Indeed, Apple Pay now boasts about 3 million retail locations nationwide, and is by far the most popular mobile payments platform, accounting for about 3 in every 4 such purchases, Mobile Payments Today noted in a separate report. However, That's 3 million enabled point-of-sale terminals out of about 13 million nationwide, so clearly there is work that needs to be done. With this in mind, and because Apple Pay only accounted for about 0.2 percent of purchase volume on all card-related transactions last year, many wonder how to boost consumer engagement.

Some experts say polls certainly indicate that consumer use could be boosted by associating mobile payments with additional rewards programs, the report said. For instance, applying extra coupons to mobile transactions automatically - in much the same way grocery stores already do for their internal rewards programs - could go a long way toward incentivizing and (more importantly) normalizing mobile use.

Certainly, businesses of any size that have been on the fence when it comes to mobile payment adoption might want to get out in front of the trend as soon as possible. This way, early adopters can still make these purchases at their stores while owners establish themselves as mobile payments-friendly for those consumers who likewise haven't moved to use them more often.