Mobile Payments Use in the U.S. Lags

18. June 2018.

As we continually point out, mobile wallet use in the U.S. lags other countries, particularly Asia where the government’s demonetization policies have helped spur its use. In a June 14th article in Forbes, Forrester Research had predicted in 2015 that mobile wallets would become a marketing platform in their own right by 2020, expecting growing adoption. Yet, this prediction is not materializing, other than a few examples such as Alibaba and WeChat in Asia. The U.S. counterparts such as Apple Pay or Samsung Pay or Google Wallet are not yet offering any platform rich enough to engage customers. In fact, we see Apple Pay actually losing customers. U.S. consumers want better shopping experiences that blend the mobile experience to get what they want faster and easier, but it is less often done through these universal mobile wallets and more often driven from merchant based applications that often incorporate loyalty and rewards, which to date still remain nascent in universal mobile wallets.

“Mobile wallets will grow in appeal as consumers struggle with loyalty reward programs, face irrelevant and cumbersome in-store experiences, and become comfortable with mobile wallets’ nonpayment features. Outside Asia, mobile wallets are an emerging marketing tactic and will grow in importance because they enable markets to borrow mobile moments, offer a highly effective way to increase in-store conversion rates, and are a channel for future engagement. For example, mobile wallet’s dynamic nature means marketers can reactivate or update a pass remotely once it’s installed; they can add the latest offers or notify users of a flash sale.

In the U.S., Mercator Advisory Group’s CustomerMonitor Survey Series’ report, Mobile Payments: Greater Value Is Needed for Widespread Adoption, half of smartphone owners used any type of mobile payments within the previous year, including 1 in 4 who used a universal mobile wallet and 1 in 3 who used retailer mobile payment apps. Yet, mobile payment use is lackluster, except for a small segment of avid users, whose use is increasing. Merchant-based mobile apps appear to have broader appeal today than universal mobile payment apps, perhaps because of their support and integration of loyalty and rewards programs that stimulate use, such as Starbucks and features that improve customer experience. Mobile order and pay is a real benefit to many consumers as 47% of consumers and 65% of young adults say they have used mobile order and pay. Mobile payment will gain adoption when the benefits are clearly defined promoting its use. In fact, 7 in 10 smartphone owners indicated that rewards, incentives and discounts for using mobile payments would motivate them to pay with these apps more often. Undoubtedly, added benefits such as faster or better service with a more personalized approach will broaden its appeal.

Overview by Karen Augustine, Manager Primary Data Services at Mercator Advisory Group

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