Commentary

U.S. Consumers Not Sold On Mobile Payments

Worldwide, U.S. shoppers lead the way when it comes to using mobile devices during trips to bricks-and-mortar stores.

In fact, when asked where they last used their smartphone or tablet to help them shop, 37% of U.S. shoppers said “in a store” -- one of the highest levels among consumers surveyed in 20 countries -- according to fresh findings from Gfk.

Yet, in-store mobile payments still account for only 2% of all U.S. transactions -- a level dramatically lower than China (24%) and other mobile-forward regions, the research firm reports.

What gives?

For one, levels of concern and skepticism about mobile payments among U.S. consumers have risen over the past year.

Also, 42% US shoppers now agree that “mobile payments are more of a gimmick today than a major part of how I pay.” This represents an increase of 5 percentage points, year-over-year.

What’s more, 24% of U.S. shoppers say “I am worried about my personal information when using a mobile payment app” -- up from 20%, year-over-year.

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“Lingering security concerns -- mostly unfounded -- and the lack of a clear, consumer-centric value proposition are hindering adoption and usage of in-store mobile payments in the U.S.,” Tim Spenny, SVP on GfK’s Financial Services team, notes in a new report.

In stores and elsewhere, for what purposes are US consumers using their gadgets?

A quarter report comparing prices, nearly 1-in-5 say they search for product information, 17% read online reviews, and 15% check availability of particular products.

Looking ahead, U.S. shoppers conveyed low levels of enthusiasm for the future of mobile payments. All told, only 26% said they “look forward to being able to pay for more and more transactions from my mobile devices” -- significantly lower than the world average of 41%.

Clearly an optimist, Spenny suggests that U.S. consumers can still be sold on the benefits of mobile commerce.

“A clear security communication effort coupled with a compelling app or wallet design … would help mobile payments become more of a mainstream behavior among U.S. shoppers,” he believes.\

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