Are Mobile Payments set to enter the Mainstream?

Mobile payments: on the cusp

Mobile payments appear to be coming of age. There are signs of a shift in consumer attitudes and more focus on the space from the traditional financial institutions than ever before. Alongside this there is growth in backing of near-field communication (NFC) technology, increased investment in dedicated mobile payments players and serious interest from players such as Google and Apple. Even the likes of Starbucks are getting in on the act, allowing US customers to buy coffee with their smartphones.

Consequently, a hype machine that has rumbled away in the background for years has gone into overdrive. While 2bn people across the world have credit cards, 5bn have mobile phones. Cue mass potential for penetration, particularly in emerging markets where credit card ownership is low. Or so the optimistic theory goes. But take the projections with a pinch of caution. The majority of consumers have never heard of NFC and remain relatively wary about using their mobiles to pay for goods for a variety of reasons.

Mobile payments will eventually become a mainstream reality, but perhaps not at the rate some might suggest. In the same way increased internet usage resulted in the gradual rise of e-commerce, ever-growing mobile internet use will result in m-commerce. But it’s likely to be a steady shift, rather than a sudden boom.


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