Wearables: The Next Mobile Payment Device? - eMarketer

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Wearables: The Next Mobile Payment Device?

Wearable devices preferred over mobile phones for in-store payments

March 3, 2015

The wearables explosion is ticking closer, particularly as the release of the Apple Watch nears, and estimates for the market are huge. In February 2015, Cisco Systems forecast that global wearable device connections would total 578 million in 2019, compared with 109 million in 2014 and 170 million in 2015. And Tractica estimated that the number of wearable devices shipped worldwide in 2020 would reach 187.2 million—up from 17.0 million in 2013.

Attitudes Toward Using Wearable Devices to Make In-Store Payments Among US Smartphone Owners, Dec 2014 (% of respondents)

Mobile payments aren’t a new concept, but most chatter has focused on the usage of mobile phones to purchase items. However, based on December 2014 polling by Stratos, wearables can’t be left out of the conversation. Among US smartphone owners, more than two-thirds said they would prefer to use a wearable device over a mobile phone to make in-store payments.

Mobile payments could also increase the frequency of wearables usage, as half of respondents said they would a wearable device more if it could make in-store payments. Overall, more than four in 10 respondents said they would make in-store payments via wearables.

However, other Stratos results suggest brands shouldn’t bank on selling wearables based on their mobile payment options. Just 12.2% of smartphone owners cited making payments and tracking payment history as the primary way they used or would be interested in using wearable devices. Instead, wearables owners and potential users were most interested in tracking fitness and health. Clearly, mobile payment options are a nice-to-have wearables feature, not a must-have.

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