Blog: Don’t Listen to Consumers on Mobile Wallets … Yet
A new survey suggests most consumers don’t want mobile wallets, but many were skeptical about the Internet, at first.
By Kate Fitzgerald, Emerging Payments Editor
Despite all the hoopla about mobile wallets, most consumers aren’t interested, a new survey suggests. Asked who they would trust most to provide a wallet inside a phone to pay online and in-store, provide ID and collect points and coupons? Sixty-four percent of respondents picked “no one.”
I don’t believe it for a minute. Visa’s V.me, MasterCard’s MasterPass, PayPal’s digital wallet, Google Wallet, Isis, MCX and others are among the crop of digital and mobile wallets undergoing frenetic development under the assumption that one day everyone will embrace some versions of these innovations with gusto.
|Consumer indifference to mobile wallets in 2013 reminds me of how many people initially felt about the Internet and its capacity to change our lives.|
But when Consult Hyperion in September asked 1,015 U.S. consumers to pick their first choice among various providers of mobile wallets, most said “no one.” It’s not hard to see why respondents made that choice. It’s human nature to resist change, and consumer awareness of mobile wallets is close to zero. Among those with some glimmer of mobile wallets’ promise, 20 percent of respondents chose banks as their preferred provider; 10 percent chose Google; 3 percent chose major retailers, like Walmart, and 2 percent chose phone service providers.
Consumer indifference to mobile wallets in 2013 reminds me of how many people initially felt about the Internet and its capacity to change our lives. In 1995 when the Federal Networking Council formally defined the term “Internet” and commercial and consumer adoption began, no one could foresee how it would reshape everyday life and which industries would feel its effects most acutely.
Early analysis of the Internet in the 1990s often focused on the technology itself, particularly its reliability and access. While many grasped its potential, few were visionary enough to recognize where it would lead. As people began to trust the new medium, our initial assumptions were challenged. At first women were more likely to distrust the Internet. Men in their 30s were among the earliest adopters of e-commerce and online shopping, which seems humorous now that women account for a vast amount of online retail purchases.
Coincidentally or not, women today seem to be more wary than men about mobile wallets. Only half of men ages 25-34 in Hyperion Consult’s survey said they wouldn’t use a mobile wallet, while at the other extreme, 78 percent of women ages 45-54 said they would never use one.
If history is any guide, mobile wallet analysis in these early days also is overly obsessed with form and details, such as NFC’s role and how retailers’ loyalty programs will operate within different wallet concepts, and with which phones and networks, etc.
Given the awe-inspiring promise of mobile wallets to replace plastic cards and clunky paper coupons with instantly accessible, trackable and more secure digital variations of these items contained in a small mobile device, there is every reason to believe mobile wallets will reshape our financial lives and how we shop.
If we could see the future, we’d buy stock now in the mobile wallet concepts that will dominate the landscape one day, just as Google arose from a Silicon Valley garage to tower over other early search-engine contenders (anyone remember Lycos, Altavista and WebCrawler?). Imagine how valuable it could be to know which industries mobile wallets will accelerate, and which ones it might kill off!
One thing I’m willing to bet: Despite what they say today, women will ultimately embrace mobile wallets in droves and probably surpass men in their passion for using these convenient new tools revolutionizing the shopping experience. Exactly how mobile wallets will change our lives and what shape they will take remains unknown. But don’t buy into what consumers are saying now about mobile wallets. They said the same thing about Websites once upon a time.
Kate Fitzgerald covers emerging payments at Paybefore. Fitzgerald has a broad range of experience working for various business and financial services publications. As a senior editor for Advertising Age during the 1990s, Fitzgerald closely followed the consumer adoption of the Internet from its early days. She can be reached at [email protected].
If you’d like to comment on this blog post, please join the conversation on our Paybefore Linkedin Group.