The Contactless Card Rollout May Hit Mobile Payments Systems

May 16, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

A report recently released from Auriemma Research offers something of a disturbing notion: the upcoming rollout of contactless card systems on a wider scale may have a negative impact on the mobile payments system as we know it.

The Auriemma Research report notes that mobile payments users in their current incarnation might be more open to tapping cards, because they’re already used to tapping with their phones. That also potentially may make users more open to adopting the contactless card and throwing over the mobile device-based system.

This is further backed by additional details; about three in four mobile payments users have already used a contactless card to make a payment. That compares to just four in 10 non-mobile-payments users. It gets worse for the mobile picture, though; 60 percent of mobile payments users have already expressed interest in using a contactless card to make payments. Those who haven’t used mobile payments can only show about 25 percent interested.

However, there is dissent; the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston suggests that tapping a card might actually have the opposite effect, driving users to the mobile device instead. With consumers largely unclear about the difference—18 percent believe a card is better than a phone, 17 percent believe a phone is better than a card, and 65 percent don’t believe there’s a difference—this is a fight that could go either way.

Admittedly, mobile payments haven’t really caught on in the US outside of some comparatively isolated pockets of use. That’s thanks in large part to their walled-garden usage model; it’s not like just anyone could go out and get Apple Pay. You had to have an iPhone. Ditto Samsung Pay, though not so much with Google Pay. To believe that users who were used to paying over a mobile phone would depart it for a card, though, may be a bridge too far; people need their phones these days as much as they need a wallet.

Still, the rise of contactless cards may ultimately mark a move away from the mobile phone-based mobile payments system into a completely different breed. Only time will tell just how that works out, but for now, contactless cards stand to be at least a major shakeup to the field.