PwC: Mobile Payments a Big Part of the 2018 Shopping Season

November 23, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

We’ve already heard more than a little about mobile payments and the 2018 Christmas shopping season, and from the looks of things, it could be a banner year for shopping mobile-style. A new report sent our way from PwC, meanwhile, reveals the potential color of that banner, and what it could mean for mobile payments going forward.

First off, nearly one in three consumers, according to PwC’s 2018 Holiday Outlook, will use some breed of smart payment in stores. Smartphones will be the payment vector of choice for 24 percent of shoppers, and 16 percent will use wearable devices for payments.  The smartphone count is up six percent over last year’s figures, and the wearable count is up eight percent.

Millennials, not surprisingly, are doing pretty well with mobile payments. They’re actually 2.5 times more likely to pay by wearable device than overall consumer figures. Millennials also lead the way in smartphone payments both online and in-store. Gen Z, which has long been a trend-buster, is actually just a bit behind the millennial market, with 56 percent planning to use buy buttons as opposed to 57 percent millennials.

Yet even as noteworthy as these figures inherently are, they’re nothing against China’s figures. At last report, 95 percent of the country had used mobile payments against just 42 percent of consumers in the US. What’s more, in China, 84 percent are more likely to shop with retailers that offer mobile payments, and 54 percent will spend more money when mobile payments are involved.

It’s a safe bet that mobile payments in the United States will never match China’s figures, not without some fundamental changes to the US’ shopping landscape. First, the primacy of cash will have to fall, and credit cards will have to be directly incorporated. Then, mobile payments systems will have to ramp up to absorb the sudden influx of new shoppers. This doesn’t describe “fundamental changes” to a landscape so much as it does “catastrophic changes,” and many of these will likely never come around.

Mobile payments are likely to be just part of the landscape in the US, and one that users will find convenient and welcome. Retailers who accommodate mobile payments–along with all the others out there–should reap some handy rewards.