Commentary

PayPal Reports Mobile Payments Surge On Black Friday

The volume of transactions completed on mobile devices surged over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, according to PayPal, which said the total dollar figure soared 56% compared to the same period last year -- including Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Saturday and “Small Business Sunday” -- while the number of shoppers jumped 43%.

For Black Friday specifically, the global volume of mobile payments was up 62% over last year, while the number of shoppers using mobile payments increased 51%. Bringing up the rear, “Cyber Monday” actually saw the smallest increase, with mobile payments volume up a still substantial 39%.

Impressive as these numbers are, they are down a bit from last year -- at least when it comes to user growth: over 2012-2013 the number of shoppers using mobile payments almost doubled, with a 91% increase, and in 2011-2012 it roughly trebled with a jump of 173%.

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PayPal also broke the holiday weekend down into smaller periods to see when mobile shoppers were most active. On Thanksgiving Day, mobile commerce peaked from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., which seems to suggest people turning to online shopping as they loafed around the table after dinner (or “first dinner,” as it’s known in my household).

Interestingly, PayPal noted that last weekend was not the biggest mobile shopping period this year: that distinction goes to September 30-October 1 -- when total mobile payments were up 26% and 27%, respectively, compared to the same days in 2013.

Meanwhile, a separate analysis of e-commerce activity over Thanksgiving weekend by IBM found that over half (52%) of all visits to e-commerce sites came from mobile devices, up 22% from last year. However a large part of this was apparently just browsing, as mobile contributed 32% of actual sales, per the same analysis. In other words, over two-thirds of transactions were still completed on PCs.

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