With the mobile phone hitting 40 this week, it’s amazing to see how far it has come since the first model back in the 70s. With an estimated six billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, we’re seeing more and more handsets replacing many things we take for
granted, including money. But for a decade and a half, mobile payments have struggled to make an impact among consumers with some estimates showing just 8 per cent are currently using a mobile wallet or NFC on their smartphone.
However, it seems that the tides are turning and we’re at a tipping point with everything working in the favour of mobile payments. Only this week, in the UK there has been news that the
Department for Transport is drawing up proposals to introduce new forms of "ticketless travel" across their networks, using phones and credit cards to pay for and access every form of public transport. This will be a massive move for the industry, allowing
customers to use their phones in the longer term.
This is just one of the many schemes that we are going to see rolled out over the globe in the near future. However, the success of these schemes all comes down to one thing – customer adoption. Payments technology needs to appeal to the consumer in order
to drive the necessary levels of adoption, ultimately coming down to two main drivers; ease of use and cost. Replacing cash with card has always had huge potential benefits for the seller, but unless these benefits are passed on to the consumer then it begs
them to ask, why change?
Travel and payments have led the way in this arena. In London, Transport for London has seen success with both the Oyster and also the latest ‘contactless payments’ option on its buses - a success down to both these two drivers. By making the option substantially
cheaper and easier than carrying cash, people were forced to buy to the scheme so a win-win situation all around.
Whilst 40 years is a big milestone for many, the next couple of years will be the real test for mobile as we see which schemes listen to their customers and succeed, and watch those that don’t and fail.