Consumers Skeptical Of Mobile Wallets

Smartphone-WalletUsing mobile as a shopping tool clearly is being embraced by consumers more quickly than online e-commerce enjoyed in the 1990s and 2000s. But the concept of the mobile wallet and paying for goods over devices is still either unfamiliar or unimpressive to most shoppers.

According to a new survey on upcoming shopping plans by ResearchNow, commissioned by payment processing firm Litle & Co., almost a quarter of the more than 500 customers surveyed have shopped on their mobile devices. Among those who did make purchases, the typical cart size was $20-$100.

But when it comes to the wrapper for using devices as payment tools, the mobile wallet, there is overwhelming disinterest. The survey finds that only 8.6% of consumers with smartphones agree that “mobile wallets are going to change the payment world.” The mobile wallet form and format are still in their nascent stages currently. Google has an app tied to its own payment system, and Apple recently introduced its Passbook on iOS 6 that gathers together third-party coupons, e-tickets and debit cards.

Like the wallet that powers m-payments for retail purchases (also called proximity mobile buying), consumers are also not well acquainted with the m-payment facilitators like Square. More than two-thirds (71%) say they have never used a mobile swipe serve at a retailer. "The number of shoppers transacting via their mobile devices is small, and really calls into question the consumer appetite for mobile payments," says Ben Saren, VP of Marketing, Litle. "The reason why mobile wallets haven't caught on yet is because there really hasn't been an incentive to switch over to them. It's still just as easy, if not easier, to pull out cash or a credit card and make a purchase. Also, there will never be consumer adoption until merchant adoption expands. No one service has gained ubiquity in the marketplace."

Interestingly, one of the critical functions that many associate with mobile wallets -- integration of loyalty and rewards programs -- is an important motivator to consumers. For the upcoming holiday season, a majority (53%) say they will rely on available funds rather than credit to pay for gifts. And while only about a third of shoppers say they will be using credit cards this season, almost half of cardholders say that awards and miles are a primary reason for using their cards. But among the most affluent ($150,000+ incomes), a remarkable 73% are motivated by rewards to pull out the plastic. 

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1 comment about "Consumers Skeptical Of Mobile Wallets ".
  1. kelly brieger from kbpr , October 26, 2012 at 5:08 p.m.
    I think Apple Passbook will change all this, it's not so much about the incentives, but the simplicity and natural behavior. These wallets are just not that easy or intuitive for people yet. It'll start coming together soon, with Apple behind it. Three million people use the Starbucks card on their phone today, and it's completely intuitive. And, as retailers and brands start to integrate offers naturally, apps and text channels will be used too.