Black Friday for Mobile Payments Didn’t Go as Smoothly as It Could

December 5, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

We all know that mobile payments can do some great things for our shopping interests. Speeds up check-out procedures, offers us a way to budget better, helps protect our purchases, and plenty more. But we all know mobile payments aren’t perfect, and new word from Boston tech firm Cayan proved that there’s still room for improvement in mobile payments.

Cayan’s report noted that smartphone payment apps were just one percent of the million-plus in-store payment transactions on Black Friday, and that based on Cayan’s current retail partners. Granted, the total use is up—that one percent represents a 0.6 percent increase from last year—but it’s barely up at all.

Cayan, in turn, believes that more mobile payments use should be taking place in general, particularly in terms of in-store contactless payments like we’re seeing much more of in Europe. Cayan’s Dominic Lachowicz, senior vice present of engineering, noted one of the big problems when he said “Nearly every adult in the US has a smartphone capable of mobile payments, but retailer support for mobile payments is spotty at best.”

The numbers from Black Friday do bear this out; there was plenty of mobile shopping, and probably plenty of mobile payments use via mobile shopping, but this was all done in the mobile ecosystem. There weren’t a lot of people pulling a Hannibal Buress and paying for their deli sandwiches and whatever else from their Samsung Pay interfaces and so on.

We’ve already seen how this technology can effectively turn into a complete check-out system, allowing people to scan and pay for their own purchases on an ongoing basis right in the store itself. Granted, that has some unpleasant potential ramifications for the future as far as employment goes—when everyone’s carrying their own checkstand right in their pocket or purse, what value a cashier?—but it’s certainly possible. Are stores afraid of the potential backlash of unemployed checkers? Are stores concerned about the new infrastructure costs when their margins are already pretty thin thanks to online shopping?

What’s driving the hesitation that Cayan seems to have found here? There are a lot of potential issues, but one thing is clear: in-store mobile payments have a long way to go to reach their full glory.