Payments

When it comes to mobile payments, banks need to learn from retailers

  • Mobile payment adoption among Apple, Android and Samsung Pay are low, and customers say playing with cash or card works just fine for them
  • Loyalty and rewards incentives may not be enough to make consumers like mobile payments, but it's on retailers to find what would keep people coming back to their mobile wallets
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When it comes to mobile payments, banks need to learn from retailers

It may be on retailers to move the needle when it comes to mobile wallet adoption.

Apple Pay launched in August 2014 but adoption of the mobile wallet and all of its peers that followed — mainly Samsung Pay and Android Pay — has been “underwhelming to date by nearly every objective standard,” Goldman Sachs analysts said in a recent client report.

More and more, however, retail chains — especially among quick service restaurants — have been investing more in their customer apps to provide value beyond the payment, by allowing them to order and pay in advance and personalize ordering preferences and location, for example.

It’s not the first time the financial services world has had to look to the retail industry for innovation. It’s a similar theme among bank branches, which are starting to see their digital and mobile strategies come together but are now having to look to other types of retailers for physical branch strategy and inspiration.

Here are five charts that show why the mobile wallets push the payments industry wants will need some help from retailers.

People really don’t use their mobile wallets
While many people have enrolled in Apply Pay or used their Samsung Pay wallet to pay for something once or twice, regular, most people aren’t using their phones to pay regularly.

Only 27 percent of iPhone users (with the operating system to use Apple Pay) have ever used Apple Pay — and only eight percent use it on a weekly basis, according to First Annapolis statistics. For Samsung users, that number falls to six percent, and for Android users, three percent.

Plastic cards work just fine
A survey by Pymnts found that users don’t mind taking cards out of their wallet to pay at the counter. Android Pay users (from October 2016 to June 2017) and Samsung Pay users (from March to June of this year) indicated they’re “satisfied with their current payment methods.” That number has risen steadily for users of Apple Pay — which launched a year before its peers — from 37 percent in March 2015 to 49.6 percent this June.

A survey conducted by Javelin Strategy and Research showed consumers would start to migrate their payment initiation from the physical to mobile wallet if it offered them more ways to add convenience to their lives, dividing the respondents by “power users,” who use their mobile wallets on a weekly or daily basis; “light users,” who use mobile wallets monthly; and nonusers.

Nonusers’ security concerns ranked higher that rewards incentives when asked what would make them choose digital over physical wallets, showing there’s an understanding gap between customers and the financial services firms that handle their information. Merchants need to help them understand that digital wallets are safer as well as faster than physical cards, the survey recommends.

It’s important to note the JPMorgan Chase sponsorship on this report, however. Chase launched its own Pay product almost a year ago — a year after first announcing it — and still hasn’t disclosed any user adoption numbers. Many of the features listed in the chart below are features of Chase Pay, which partners with popular quick service restaurants.

People choose convenience over security
Generally, consumers have a high degree of confidence in the security of mobile wallets, according to a February study by Aite Group. In most regions surveyed, 80 percent of people indicated they’re at least somewhat comfortable with mobile wallet security. In most cases, confidence levels were unchanged between 2014 and 2016.

In 2016, 30 percent of mobile wallet users indicated they trust their banks to protect their personal information, compared to 44 percent in 2014. That year, 64 percent indicated they felt security was somewhat secure and were understanding of the fact that mobile wallets are a “new technology which is still being explored” but like the convenience — compared to 56 percent in 2014. (It appears that confidence levels fell, but note that population of mobile wallet users was significantly smaller in 2014 compared to 2016.)

Merchants are unconvinced by incentives
Almost half of large merchants are too concerned by the expense of upgrading their systems to support mobile wallets, according to the Javelin study; 33 percent of small businesses share that concern. Most small businesses, 42 percent, say their customers aren’t asking for it; 30 percent of large merchants agreed.

However, few merchants — 12 percent of small businesses and 11 percent of large businesses — said they don’t see the value of supporting mobile wallets.

How Walmart does it
Walmart shows how a large retailer can make its mobile wallet something people want to use by giving them more value beyond the point of tapping and paying.

Since March, the first-time use of Walmart Pay increased by 31.7 percent to 19.1 percent of respondents, according to Pymnts. The number of shoppers that have the app on their mobile device — and use it to pay — increased 53.5 percent to 5.08 percent of respondents only 11 months after its launch. Compare that to Apple Pay’s eight percent from the first chart — three years after it launched.

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