North American mobile payments usage stagnates

North American mobile payments usage stagnates

Apple and Google may have boosted awareness of mobile payments in North America over the last year, but actual usage has remained flat, according to a survey from Accenture.

Of 4000 smartphone users in the US and Canada quizzed by Accenture, 52% are aware that they can use their handsets to make payments, up 10 percentage points on the previous year. Yet, despite the high-profile arrival of Apple Pay and Android Pay, only 18% use their phones to make at least one payment a week, a rise of only one per cent on 2014.

Apple Pay dominates, just one year after launching, it is used for more than two-thirds of all mobile payments in US stores.

Robert Flynn, MD, Accenture payment services, North America, says: "Though it’s clear that consumers are aware that they can make payments through their phones, continued use of existing payment methods - such as credit cards and cash - and slow retail adoption of modern card readers have caused usage levels to remain stagnant over the last year."

The survey highlights two groups of early adopters that are driving mobile payments uptake: the wealthy and the young. Respondents with household income of at least $150,000 are the most-avid adopters, with 38% using their phones to make payments at merchant locations at least weekly. Meanwhile, nearly a quarter of people between the ages of 18 and 34 do so, compared to an average of 18% for other age groups.

The research shows that one of the most effective ways of increasing adoption is through rewards and discounts, with non-mobile payments users saying they would be more likely to try if they were given deals and people who already pay with their handsets saying that they would increase their usage.

Meanwhile, the survey also points to a high level of adoption for P2P payments, as well as room for continued growth. More than two out of every five consumers surveyed report they have used P2P payment apps, and 15% say they make P2P payments weekly.

David Edmondson, senior MD, Accenture banking industry practice, North America, says: "With almost half of North Americans still using traditional checks to make payments to other consumers, P2P payments remains poised for potentially strong growth. Overall, integrating payments with the power that Internet-of-Things technologies can offer promises to usher in a new era of consumer product innovation and retail merchandising."

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