How Popular Are Mobile Payments? - eMarketer

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How Popular Are Mobile Payments?

Most consumers are not sold

October 7, 2014

Just because owners of the new iPhone 6 can make mobile payments using their mobile devices doesn't mean they want to. A Princeton Survey Research Associates International study for found that two-thirds of US consumers surveyed did not want to pay that way.

Mobile Payment Usage and Attitudes Among US Internet Users, Aug 2014 (% of respondents)

Previous studies and prevailing expert opinion suggest that mobile payment adoption is well received (if nascent) and slowly growing in popularity. According to an August 2014 AYTM Market Research poll, although 82.2% of respondents do not currently use mobile payments, 76.9% felt that mobile payment usage will probably or definitely become widely used in the next five years.

In an interview with eMarketer,Matthew de Ganon, senior vice president of product and commerce at SoftCard (formerly Isis Wallet), corroborated that sentiment, noting that Softcard measures close to 20,000 activations a day. He added, “A majority of consumers assume at some point they’re going to have a mobile wallet that will allow them to pay for goods and services, but only a very small percentage actually knew that it was already here. We have about 20,000 activations a day.”

But the study, which surveyed over 1,000 people, found that four in 10 respondents said they would never use their phones to pay for items, if it was up to them, and two in 10 said they would hardly ever use the technology.

The willingness to pay with a mobile device also decreased with age. Older people were more reluctant to adopt—while 64% of respondents ages 64 and older said they would never pay via mobile device, only 30% of 18- to 29-year-olds said the same. Men were slightly more open to the payments than women; people with higher levels of education, households with incomes above $75,000 per year, and also parents were more likely to be early adopters of mobile payment technology.

Regardless, those in the mobile payments space are optimistic that negative or overly cautious sentiment will turn—sometimes it takes consumers a while to warm to new technology. It also remains to be seen whether the lack of interest in paying via mobile device results from dislike of the concept of mobile payments in the abstract or disdain for the relatively rudimentary methods that currently exist to make these transactions.

Ganon believes the answer is closer to the latter. To catalyze mobile payment adoption, he said, there has to be a combination of benefits from the payment itself and the prospect of other services wrapped up around mobile payments: “If you could always take two items with you, it would be your phone and wallet. If I said to you, ‘Not only is your phone going to replace your wallet, but it's smarter, it's going to do more and it's going to provide value along the way,’ it becomes a no-brainer.” And Apple hopes that tacking the feature onto an already indispensable device—the iPhone, which people rarely leave behind—will speed up adoption and ingrain the service deeper into the mainstream.

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