Public Not Ready To Whip Out Mobile Wallets

As companies from Google to Visa and MasterCard to PayPal battle for control of the “mobile wallet,” it’s worth remembering that the competing mobile payment plans will not amount to much without consumers coming on board. A new study from Compete suggests that piece of the m-commerce puzzle won’t fall into place right away.

The Web measurement firm asked 1,200 people who use financial services about their knowledge of, and attitudes toward, emerging mobile wallet systems. Overall awareness was high, with about two-thirds of those surveyed knowledgeable about m-payment efforts. But the vast majority of consumers say they aren’t likely to start using mobile payment services in the next three months. Only two-thirds of deposit account and credit card owners who are not already using mobile services are not planning to start anytime soon. 

Furthermore, just 7% of banking consumers say they would be very or extremely likely to start using their phone or tablet to make a bill payment. And only 5% of banking customers would be likely to start using their mobile device to make a deposit. The same goes for credit card customers, most of whom say they aren’t likely to begin managing their credit card or using their mobile device or a point-of-sale purchases.

Based on its findings, Compete does not expect the rapid adoption of mobile devices to translate into similar enthusiasm for mobile wallet offerings.

“One reason for this is simply that online banking paved the way for mobile banking, contributing to early, high levels of adoption by consumers who were already banking online,” stated a blog post Tuesday by Compete’s Jennifer Canfield.

From the customer's perspective, most of the digital banking services provide the same function, with the only differences being where and on what device business is conducted. Compete believes adoption rates will drop back to normal levels as mobile banking providers try to entice consumers who are not yet banking online.

Beyond overall questions about security and the need to manage money on the go, the study found that people had different reasons for bypassing mobile, depending on the type of financial service. For instance, when credit card owners are asked why they didn’t adopt mobile, the top reasons were slow wireless connection (52%) and lack of need (48%). Contrary to popular belief, only 15% of credit card consumers said they didn’t trust the security of their mobile device for a given transaction.

The biggest hurdle is getting customers to use mobile financial or payments services in the first place. Once they start using their phone as a mobile wallet, they do so often, according to Compete. Some 6% of consumers using mobile “tap and pay” services do so each day, and another 36%, weekly. And nearly nine out of 10 (87%) people who use mobile coupons do so at least once a month.

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