Posted by Bethany Frank on 23 Feb 2017
Rising from nonexistence just a few years ago, to a full-fledged market of its own, mobile payments have grasped the attention of some of the largest companies across various business sectors. Despite the market hype and obvious consumer benefits, however, consumers have been slow to respond. What will it take to convince people to alter their payment habits?
For many consumers, mobile payments are still an abstract concept. Although it may seem otherwise, many key demographics are uncomfortable with new technology. While these non-digital natives eventually come around to newer and faster ways of doing things, adoption often takes time. The gradual transition from cash to credit card usage in the United States is a prime example. Although they’ve been around for decades, credit and debit cards only recently became the most popular payment method, and there are plenty of consumers who still prefer to use cash most of the time.
In order to convince these consumers to adopt yet another new payment method, digital wallet providers need to emphasize convenience and accessibility. From sign-up to daily use, everything about the app’s design must be seamless and intuitive. Any amount of friction in the sign-up or payments process can mark the difference between a consumer who quickly integrates the technology into his or her daily life, and one who never opens the app again.
Late adopters are out there, but for millions of other consumers, accessibility is not an issue. From millennials to baby boomers, those who consider themselves “digital natives” quickly and enthusiastically seek out technology that makes their lives easier. These consumers are already familiar with the benefits of mobile payments but are discouraged from utilizing the technology due to a lack of merchant acceptance.
Consumers shouldn’t have to wonder whether or not their digital wallet of choice is a valid form of payment at the stores and restaurants they frequent the most. Until merchant acceptance is as ubiquitous as credit and debit cards, mass adoption of mobile payment platforms will likely remain an uphill battle. Merchants may be able to influence adoption by harnessing mobile payments to offer customers enhanced rewards. Starbucks has seen tremendous success by shifting its existing rewards card program into a sleek, comprehensive app that allows customers to place orders, make payments, manage their accounts, and collect rewards all from their mobile devices.
Mobile payments took off in India after the central government announced the sudden nullification of large-denomination rupee notes. The announcement left millions who were previously dependent on cash transactions panicking to find a secure – and legitimate – way to pay for goods and services. Without a similarly disruptive force to give consumers a real reason to change their payment habits in the United States, adoption is expected to remain slow. The fast rise of mobile payments in other parts of the world, however, could convince consumers in the United States to catch up on the trend as well.
Mobile payments are faster, more convenient, and often more secure than more traditional payment methods. Consumers are often aware of these benefits, so convincing them to adopt the technology will require more creative thinking from mobile wallet providers and merchants alike. Perhaps the best course of action would be for mobile wallet providers and merchants to work together to further educate and convince consumers. We’re likely to see a lot more activity in this space in the coming year, especially as Target and others roll out their mobile payment offerings. Be sure to stay tuned to our blog as we explore the latest in mobile payments, and visit our Resource Center to learn more.
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