• March 1, 2012

Consumers Unlikely to Abandon Wallets in Favor of Paying With Smartphones

While nearly half of all U.S. consumers now have smartphones, a survey by Radius Global Market Research shows that most Americans remain quite skeptical of smartphone-generated payment solutions and in the near-term are not likely to give up traditional forms of payment.

"There's been a lot of speculation about how quickly consumers are moving to a wallet-less existence. Based on our recent survey, it won't be anytime soon," says Chip Lister, managing director of Radius. "The benefits of convenience, speed, and portability, are resonating with a niche population of younger consumers. But even with this segment there are important obstacles that must be addressed before pay-by-smartphone technologies will be widely adopted as a replacement to more traditional modes of payments."

Security tops the list of concerns about mobile payments. Half of all American consumers say potential security and fraud significantly influence their likelihood to use smartphone technology to make purchases in the future. In comparison, only 14 percent say security and fraud don't influence their future likelihood to make those purchases.

The segment most likely to make purchases via smartphone, consumers under 35 and those identified as digitally savvy, are also the most likely to be concerned with security and fraud issues. Fifty-four percent of consumers under the age of 35 are concerned with fraud. That figure rises to 62 percent among digitally savvy consumers.

"The more the consumers know about smartphone technology, the more they worry about the security of mobile transactions," Lister says. "While marketers have done a good job at promoting convenience, they will also need to boost messaging efforts to address security concerns in a way that convinces digitally savvy consumers."

Complicating messaging efforts further is the fragmented nature of mobile payment service delivery. Several branded product and service providers are involved in executing a single smartphone-generated transaction. Responsibility for flawless delivery is spread across several partners.

"Consumers appear to be very aware of the entire delivery chain associated with mobile payments," Lister says. "The company you keep will be extremely important in marketing efforts. Individual brand reputations of retailers, device makers, software developers, service providers, and financial institutions will be scrutinized. In consumers' minds the complete transaction is only as strong as the weakest link, especially as it relates to security."

"Consumers don't currently view banks and credit card companies as leading the way in the effort to develop innovative payment technologies," Lister adds. "To remain competitive in the very near term, it may be important for marketing efforts to lead with smartphone/technology brands."

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