Tim Cook, Apple's CEO since August 2011, yesterday said during the company's earnings call that the mobile payments industry was "just getting started" and still "in its infancy."
And while Apple isn't talking too much about its plans in this area, rumors have circulated for some time that the iPhone would gain some sort of mobile payments system, perhaps through near-field communications, in the not-too-distant future.
The company last year released Passbook for customers using gift card or ticketing apps. It also already has a mobile self-checkout app for its Apple Store customers, and reportedly has millions of credit card numbers stored in its iTunes system.
But Cook's assessment is still accurate, according to research and consulting firm Accenture.
So what's needed to increase adoption? Financial incentives and mobile-based financial-management tools could increase consumers' use of smartphones as payment devices, according to an Accenture survey of 4,000 smartphone users in the United States and Canada.
The research found that among consumers who already use their smartphones to make mobile payments:
- 60 percent said they would use them more often if they could track receipts.
- 56 percent they would use them more often if they coule manage their personal finances with their phones.
- 60 percent said they were highly likely to pay by phone if they were offered instant coupons from retailers.
- 51 percent said they would use them more often if they received rewards points stored to their phones for future purchases at the store.
- 50 percent said they would use them more often if they received preferential treatment, such as priority customer service.
Additionally, among non-users:
- 60 percent cited security concerns as the main reason for not using them.
- 37 percent cited privacy issues and the convenience of using cash, checks, or credit cards as reasons for not using them.
- 32 percent said they would be more likely to use mobile payments if they could track receipts.
- 21 percent said they would be more likely to use mobile payments if they received preferential treatment at the store.
- 20 percent said they would be more likely to use mobile payments if they received coupons that could be stored to their phones for future purchases.
"Our survey reveals that current users and non-users alike can be incentivized to use their smartphones to make mobile payments through rewards for usage or other value-added tools, such as receipt tracking," said Jim Bailey, managing director and head of Accenture Payment Services in North America, in a statement. "As consumers expect their smartphones to improve and simplify their lives, financial institutions, merchants, mobile network operators, and technology providers should consider incorporating new mobile payment applications to encourage broad adoption as quickly as possible."
"While the industry is preoccupied with the technology roll-out for mobile payments, we found that consumers are still very concerned about security and privacy issues," observed Matthew Friend, a managing director of Accenture Payment Services North America. "In addition, a significant number still don't see the convenience and value of using their phones to make payments. For mobile payments to achieve widespread adoption, consumers must be educated about the fact that mobile payments are secure and more convenient than other payment options. While persuading current users to become more regular users is clearly important, getting people to use this technology in the first place is the biggest challenge the industry faces."