The pressure's on to make payments off mobile phones a reality in the U.S. Apple again touted Apple Pay, and its acceptance at a current 700,000 locations, during the company's Apple Watch event on Monday. Google's purchase of Softcard gave Google Wallet partners in AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile in an attempt to expand that mobile payment system.
And yet, the race depends on consumer acceptance. On that front, things may not be going as well as the tech, telecom, and financial services giants would hope, according to a new telephone survey of 1,000 adults in March 2015 for CreditCards.com. Two-thirds weren't interested in phone-based payment systems, saying they would "never" or "hardly ever" use a cellphone to make payments. Only 17 percent replied that they would use phones to pay "always" or "most of the time."
With a 3.6 percentage point margin of error, the results were virtually unchanged from answers six months ago. In September 2014, 13 percent said they would pay by phone "always" or "most of the time," while 62 percent would "never" or "hardly ever" do so.
According to the study, men and women were about equal in their interest in phone-based payments. Different income and education levels didn't make much difference in the responses. As you might expect, younger people were more likely (24 percent) to want to use a phone all the time or most of the time. A press release from CreditCards.com also mentioned that Hispanics and Southerners were more likely to warm towards mobile payments, while least likely to use them were whites, senior citizens, and westerners.
That's not to say Apple or Google and their partners have no chance to make a go of such a service. Even 13 percent to 17 percent of the adult population would be significant and likely influence others over time to adopt such services. There is also a built-in assumption that people would not differentiate between generic phone pay services and something specific, particularly if branded by Apple.
Forrester says that 12 percent of online sales in 2014 came from a phone. But that would include any form of ordering, and not necessary direct purchase at retail locations.
There is also no telling whether consumer response has been colored by practical issues. They may assume that retail locations they frequent wouldn't be set up to support the technology, or concern about security might be a factor.