The Troubles Consumers Have With Mobile Payments

May 20, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

Following mobile payments has made it clear that there are plenty of opportunities in this field. Yet while we’ve watched a range of new products—and use cases for those products—emerge, we’ve also seen mobile payments adoption rates lag large portions of the world. So what’s holding everybody back, anyway? A new study from eMarketer suggests just what’s stopping the consumer, and the answers will surprise you. Spoiler alert: security figures in much less than you’d think.

The eMarketer study drew on several sources, including a Hill Holliday survey, which made one point very clear: 55 percent of smartphone users in the US hate the idea of living without cash. That’s bad enough, but it gets worse for mobile payments: 45.3 percent see literally no reason to use mobile payments.

That’s enough to make any mobile payments enthusiast gasp, but there are some potential underlying causes: 23 percent had no idea how to actually use mobile payments tools, and the same amount weren’t aware of any stores that actually accepted mobile payments. This was enough for nearly half of respondents in that same survey to note they wouldn’t actually recommend using mobile payments.

Security did figure in, as it commonly does, but not to the extent you’d expect. In fact, just a few more people believed that cash or credit card were actually easier than mobile payments than those who were concerned about security; security was a problem for 36.3 percent of respondents, but ease of use was a problem for 37.4 percent.

The news is not so dire as some may have expected. Security concerns are declining, likely because the mobile payments industry has been improving security at a frantic pace for years. That pretty much had to take some of the teeth out of the security threat. It’s interesting that ease of use seems to be the leading problem now, and with many wondering if they even can use mobile payments, some have suggested the problem is just a lack of education and outreach.

If that’s the problem, some aggressive marketing should take care of that, but the good news here is that security is not the problem it once was. Only time will tell if the industry can get around all the others.