Have you been tempted to try one of the many mobile payment systems on the market today? If not, what is keeping you from doing so? Many tech companies and retailers are interested in your answer.
For years, headlines have touted that mobile payment apps and mobile wallets will revolutionize the way consumers pay for items. With the explosion in the number of mobile devices and corresponding apps, and the convenience offered by mobile payments, how could mobile payments fail to become the dominant payment method?
Mobile payments may well dominate in the future, but they are being adopted more slowly than the tech world expected. Multiple platforms are fighting for dominance in the field and attempting to distinguish themselves from the pack.
Tech companies and retailers alike are clogging the field with possibilities, and that may be part of the problem.
Consumers are unsure about exactly how and when to use mobile payments, apps, and wallets, and may be waiting for a clear winner to emerge, or they may simply be satisfied with their current payment methods and see no overriding reason to switch.
Statistics presented in March by Pymnts.com seem to support the latter premise. Consumers are trying mobile wallets in fairly small numbers and the conversion rate is low. Apple Pay already shows the highest trial rate – 21.9% as opposed to 14.6% for Samsung Pay, 14.5% for Wal-Mart Pay, and 9.7% for Android Pay – but the trial rate is not producing regular users.
Among the mobile systems, Apple Pay appears to be losing ground while Samsung Pay is on an upward trajectory. While a study by Boston Retail Partners found that Apple Pay had the largest percentage of U.S. merchants supporting the service, the Pymnts.com report shows that Samsung Pay is used more often. Samsung Pay has a 4.5% usage rate – the highest among the mobile wallets listed in the Pymnts.com report – compared to 4.0% for Apple Pay.
The more discouraging news for Apple Pay may be the decrease in people trying the service for the first time. All of the other services show relatively flat rates in attempts to try their services, but Apple Pay shows a "steady but small" decrease in attempts over the previous twelve-month period.
Brand loyalty may be hampering the integration for both groups. If you have an Apple phone and are generally loyal to Apple products, what would motivate you to use Samsung Pay or Android Pay? The same principle applies to Samsung users. However, the overriding message is that consumers simply don't have a strong reason to switch to mobile payments.
According to the Pymnts.com report, between 41% and 49% of Americans that are not using mobile payment systems report being satisfied with their current payment methods (in comparison to a particular mobile app). Between 20% and 27% have lingering concerns about security. A solid 24% of those questioned about Apple Pay were not sure how it worked, compared to 17% of those questioned about Samsung Pay, Wal-Mart Pay, and Android Pay.
These results starkly illustrate the challenges of mobile paying systems. When you are dealing with a fairly satisfied customer base with your incumbent competitor (in this case, credit/debit cards and cash), a significant number of people not sure how to use your product, and another significant group concerned about the security of your product, you face a long uphill battle.
For mobile apps and wallets to become dominant, the competition in the field must be weeded down to a few robust systems – and the public must be educated on the advantages of those systems. The mobile systems must provide clear advantages in security and convenience, be universally accepted, and will likely need rewards programs to be able to compete with credit cards. Don't expect to see mobile apps break through these barriers any time in the near future.
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