How Do Mobile Payments Stack Up Against Plastic Cards?

December 7, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

One of the great things about mobile payments—which is also proving something of a problem to those who offer such platforms—is that there are so many options. In fact, we get to the point where we start comparing various platforms to find out which way is “better”, which itself can be a highly subjective concept. A Mercator Advisory Group took a look at the concept of plastic cards versus mobile payments systems and discovered some noteworthy points about people’s perceptions of same.

First, one of the biggest points was convenience. Mobile payments felt more convenient for users in 69 percent of cases than the plastic card, which is actually better than two to one. The problem with that, however, is that number is actually down from 2017, where 72 percent came out in favor of the mobile payment tool.

Ease of use fared worse, meanwhile; 59 percent considered the mobile payments app easier to use than the plastic card, which is actually noteworthy given that the plastic card has effectively one function. That’s up, though, from 2017 figures, where 55 percent considered the mobile payment app easier to use than the plastic card.

The study turned to 3,002 adults back in June of 2018 and took a look at the demographics and overall landscape of mobile users, as well as looking in terms of in-app payments, shopping online, and shopping in stores.

Thus, the results of the study prove somewhat mixed. It’s not hard to look at this and be deeply concerned about the state of mobile payments, which actually faltered on convenience—one of its biggest draws—against the payment card. Thankfully, ease of use actually improved, which is at least something, but it’s not much. Considering how many have raised concerns about security, losing any ground on convenience or ease of use—and thankfully again, it’s just convenience that suffered—only improves the likelihood of losing users.

The Mercator report isn’t the greatest news for mobile payments, but it does show us improvement on some fronts, and gives us opportunities for change, growth, and further improvement on other fronts. Hopefully platform operators can take this to heart and improve accordingly.