Whether it’s through Apple Pay, Softcard, or Google Wallet, mobile payments are jockeying for position in the marketplace with retailers, but according to one survey, it may be putting the cart before the horse, as consumers have been slow to truly embrace mobile payments in earnest.
A December survey by Wakefield Research for Verifone finds that 50 percent of consumers polled are still unfamiliar with mobile payments, either NFC activated like Apple Pay, or in the mobile “wallet” model a la Google Wallet. Among those who are aware of mobile payments though, according to a related survey by Thomson Reuters in November, Google Wallet was the most popular form of mobile payment. An estimated 47 percent of respondents said they use, or would consider using, Google Wallet for mobile purchases, while 30 percent expressed interest in Apple Pay and 14 percent said the same about Softcard, which may be bought out by Google Wallet in the near future.
Aside from lingering unfamiliarity, those who are enthusiastic about using mobile wallets are limited by the lack of stores accepting mobile payments. In the Wakefield-Verifone survey, 53 percent want more stores to be mobile payment friendly, including 64 percent of those under the age of 40. When asked what items would be purchased with mobile payment, 84 percent said they would use it on small and medium purchases like a latte or groceries. This would likely explain why, according to ITG research, that Apple Pay’s two biggest merchants were Whole Foods and McDonald’s in late 2014.
Despite the unfamiliarity though, there are signs that recognition of mobile payment’s potential will grow. A Lightspeed Research poll for Accenture reported that 42 percent of people made a mobile payment at some point in 2014, up from just 17 percent in 2012. According to eMarketer, 25 percent of smartphones will be used for mobile payments by 2018 as well, so while growth isn’t as explosive as it could be, it will likely become more common in short order.