In an indication of the increasing interest in mobile payments, almost one-third of Americans say that if they could carry only one item with them when they go out, they would choose their smartphone over a wallet.
That is the finding of a new study by PayPal that also points out that the vast majority of U.S. consumers — 86 percent — wish they didn’t have to carry a wallet at all. The report looked at consumer attitudes toward payments in five countries (the other four are the U.K., Canada, Germany, and Australia) and found similar payment trends in all.
PayPal suggests that businesses are lagging behind customers’ desire for new payment methods, pointing out that 68 percent of Americans say they have been unable to purchase something because they had no cash with them—and 30 percent say that happens frequently. However, the company did not include any information on business owners’ attitudes toward accepting payment from mobile devices.
A recent report by Gartner estimated that global mobile transactions will grow to $235.4 billion this year, and will reach $721 billion by 2017. The Near Field Communications technology used for many in-person mobile payments has not grown fast as once predicted, however, and high-profile services such as Google Wallet and Isis have struggled to gain traction in the mobile market.
Nonetheless, Jim Garrett, CEO of Snapfinger in Atlanta, said before the recent Mobile Payments Conference that the mobile payment options that offer an integrated experience across multiple merchants — like Google Wallet — are the ones that will have staying power. Garrett also said that while single-merchant mobile payment systems such as Starbucks have been among the few successes so far, venture capitalists currently are funding more than 250 payment startups.
The PayPal survey suggests that consumers are ready for a change in payment methods, but as yet no system has emerged as a market winner, and partly because of this, businesses have been slow to adopt the new hardware needed to accept payments from mobile devices. The PayPal report shows that consumers are ready for this technology to come into widespread acceptance, and it may be time for businesses to get past their reluctance.
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