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In the UK, Will Mobile Payments Go Mainstream?

Mobile retailing will make mobile payments more attractive to users

UK consumers lead the world in mobile commerce and smartphone use, but most have resisted making mobile payments. Nonetheless, the building blocks are in place for adoption and rapid growth, according to a new eMarketer report, “UK Mobile Payments: Toward the Tipping Point?”

Smartphones are quickly becoming ubiquitous in the country. In April 2012, eMarketer estimated smartphone penetration in the UK would stand at 30% of the general population by the end of the year. By 2015, more than half the population will use a smartphone.

Shopping is a major consideration for the UK mobile user. DIBS, an online payment solutions provider, examined the mcommerce sector across Europe in its “DIBS E-Commerce Survey 2012: A Comprehensive Study of European E-Commerce,” published in September 2012. UK consumers stood out, making the largest number of purchases by mobile phone (6.6) in the prior six months.

Taken together, the broad penetration of mobile phones and their heavy usage for product research and purchases are signals that the UK should be a fertile field for mobile payments.

Near field communications, or NFC, is the mobile payment technology that has the greatest potential at the moment. Currently, volume for NFC payments is trivial. Yankee Group estimated in April 2012 that NFC transaction value in the UK would reach only $84.8 million (£52.6 million) in 2012.

That total is expected to grow rapidly, though. Yankee forecasts that NFC payments in the UK will increase more than 100-fold in four years, topping $9.7 billion (£6 billion) by 2016.

While NFC appears positioned to become the main platform for mobile payments in the UK, this year new mobile payment platforms from three major companies are coming to market and will likely drive consumer awareness and usage.

Weve, Visa and MasterCard will each introduce mobile payment technology. All will include loyalty programs and provide the flexibility of a real wallet, but digital.


The full report, “UK Mobile Payments: Toward the Tipping Point?” also answers these key questions:

  • What is the current status of mobile payments in the UK?
  • Why is the UK a promising market for mobile payments?
  • How do Visa, MasterCard and the Weve joint venture aim to kick-start usage of mobile payments?
  • Are UK retailers and consumers ready for mobile payments?
  • What will be the likely impact of NFC technology on the retail market?

This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. eMarketer clients, log in and view the report now.


Check out today’s other articles, “Mobile Spurs Digital Coupon User Growth” and “Smartphone Activity Doesn't Stop When Users Get Behind the Wheel.”

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