Dutch Prove Laggard in Mobile Payment Use, But Reconsidering Their Position

June 6, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

Sometimes in a market, there’s interest in using a product, but for one reason or another that interest doesn’t translate into actual use. That seems to be what’s going on in the Netherlands, according to a Telecompaper Consumer Insights study, where just 11 percent of Dutch users are actually turning to mobile payments.

That number may sound low—because objectively, it is—but it masks a separate and equally noteworthy fact. While Dutch consumers aren’t turning to mobile payments in large numbers, large numbers would like to. In fact, 30 percent of consumers studied found the option more than palatable, which is the same number of consumers that found it palatable back in February 2018.

So if there’s a hefty slug of interest in mobile payments, why are the numbers of actual users so low? First, there’s a polarization effect; last year, 54 percent of users declared themselves absolutely not interested in mobile payments. This year, that number went up to 59 percent.

Second, many of the interested mobile payments users are already using a different form of mobile payments; in the Netherlands, for example, contactless cards are a big portion of the market; in March, the Netherlands surpassed the five billion point in contactless payments made.

Finally, contactless payments were big among younger users thanks to what amounted to indirect subsidies; contactless payments via smartphone or smartwatch were available as a free service for bank account holders age 16 to 24. Older users had to pay fees previously, though many banks are scrapping the fees.

Given the last few points, it’s easy to see why mobile payments kind of lag in the market over there. With Apple Pay poised to arrive in the coming weeks thanks to an ING partnership, mobile payments should get a little extra life in them. Some here might wonder if there will still be a market by the time the mobile payments systems are ready, though; while Europe has proven fertile ground for mobile payments in the past, and cross-border operations certainly help, it’s been long enough that substitutes may have been found and inertia will take over from there.

It would be easy to be pessimistic here, but new options are new options, and new options will likely draw at least some business.