Americans lukewarm to Mobile Payments Adoption

Dispite the high level of innovation, and interesting startups, 2013 will be remembered as a year of poor adoption and unmet expectations for mobile payments in the US. This is evidenced by several factors, including Google Wallet being pushed back to the drawing board by the search engine giant, the Isis joint venture not gaining significant traction in its pilot stage, and resistance by merchants to upgrade their POS systems with mobile infrastructure due to new authentication mandates by Visa, MasterCard, and American Express, commonly referred to as EMV.

In a recent Computer World article, Dekkers Davidson, the head of mobile commerce for Barclaycard US, was quoted as saying:

“It would be five to eight years before even a quatrter of Americans are using mobile wallet applications”. He noted that it took eight years to reach that level of adoption in Japan.

That said, increased traction should begin to come back in 2014 as the industry begins to consolidate and some mobile payments technologies start to permanently lose favor in the market.

The above statements stem from comments made at a recent event in Texas by Joe Frisz, President and Founder of Paytroniks: “Mobile payments in the United States, more specifically NFC, will fail to generate significant traction for the remainder of 2013, but this is not necessarily because the consumers do not want or understand such solutions. This really has to do with poor adoption by merchants due to inferior value propositions and ineffective strategic positioning by solution providers, resulting in the virtual demise of Google Wallet and what appears to be less than formidable engagement of Isis pilots in Salt Lake City and Austin.”

Frisz continued: “Exceptions to mobile payment adoption have been the near-ubiquity of mobile card readers such as Square and to a lesser extent, competing solutions by Ingenico and Intuit. These services are now familiar to merchants and customers alike, but it remains to be seen how these companies will attract larger sized merchants, and more importantly, how profitable it will be to retain their current merchants in the long run. The merchant base that these companies currently service tends to be poached by other more established acquirers in the industry through the offering of better pricing and customer service.”

“However, even within mobile acquiring solutions, other providers appear to be struggling. A quick search of LevelUp merchants in the Dallas area reveals only 11 affiliated merchants in a 30-mile radius. Numbers are more impressive in New York City, but we are talking about hundreds of affiliated merchants as opposed to thousands in a highly concentrated area.”

“Looking towards the future, 2014 will most likely see some mobile payments technologies start to be perceived as antiquated by the industry and the market. You can also expect various mobile payments providers to close up shop or merge as there are currently too many players vying for the same space. Focusing on mobile acquiring solutions alone, there are currently over 75 providers in the United States. It reminds me of the early days of the World Wide Web when various search engines were competing for the same users. Remember Infoseek, Lycos, HotBot, and Excite? These companies either don’t exist anymore or have been acquired by other larger players with deeper pockets.”

Frisz made the comments at an event marking the launch of Paytroniks’s new website. Visitors to the site can now download intelligence reports about the payments industry free of charge. Founded in 2009, Paytroniks is a boutique consultancy dedicated to evaluating emerging technologies in the payments industry. Areas of specialty are mobile payments, prepaid cards, and mPOS (acquiring) solutions.

Source: Paytronics,  image credit: mobileoffice