Although mobile wallets provide secure ways to handle and transfer money, Americans have been slow to adopt them as a way of making everyday transactions.
How many times have you sent a payment or birthday check through the mail, only to get a phone call weeks later explaining that the money was never received?
Whether oversights like these are the fault of simple human error or someone’s unchecked greed, exchanging money no longer has to be a cause for worry. Digital wallets are now available, and these smartphone-based services can securely transfer money at the click of a button.
So why are Americans still choosing to handle flimsy bills and credit cards that are easily misplaced? In 2013, people around the world spent $235.4 billion dollars via mobile payments, and North America, though usually at the forefront of commerce, only spent $37 billion of that sum, according to the New York Times. It seems as though Americans are simply slow to adapt to this monumental change.
Swamped in a Sea of Technology
Mobile commerce doesn’t just keep your checks from getting lost in the mail. As the New Republic argues, there are a slew of benefits available to those who convert to digital commerce, on both the consumer and retailer sides of the equation.
When customers use a credit card to purchase an item, retailers must pay a credit card fee, which they tack onto the price of the product. Mobile payments would significantly lower or eliminate this fee altogether, resulting in lower prices across the board.
Companies that provide mobile commerce services are also more adept at policing fraud and have strong, direct relationships with credit card companies, benefitting everyone involved. And of course, mobile payments would allow retailers to collect data about the shopping habits of their consumers, allowing them to better target their marketing and sales.
On the consumer side, mobile payments would speed up the retail process, eliminating lines at the checkout counter as customers stop fumbling for their credit cards, savings cards, and coupons. Mobile payments apps sync up easily with those of individual banks, rendering the transfer and gifting of money a breeze, and allowing users to see all of their transactions simply and clearly, as Techlicious reports.
However, all of these aspects are more troublesome in other countries than they are in the U.S., contributing to the apathy Americans seem to harbor for digital wallets — although 70% of Americans find mobile payments trustworthy, the majority simply doesn’t feel compelled to use them, according to Yahoo!.
The Futures Are Up
Although the numbers on mobile payment usage seem bleak now, many researchers and entrepreneurs are optimistic that they’ll improve in the next two years. Parks Associates reported that in 2013, 20% of smartphone owners used a mobile wallet, as Business Insider explains. Using forecasting tools, researchers estimate that this will grow to 43% by 2017.
Business Insider states that “one factor that will likely drive growth is an explosion in payment technologies coming onto the market, which will have broader applications beyond payments, including mobile loyalty programs and in-store marketing.”
This means that stores will start encouraging consumers to use mobile payments by offering better deals, leaving those late adopters well behind the pack.
Soon, not having a mobile wallet could cost consumers more than just their time.