The number of North Americans using their mobile phones for payments at the point of sale has remained flat over the last year, despite growing awareness of the technology and a drop off in the popularity of cash, according to a survey from Accenture.
With banks, retailers and tech giants such as Apple and Google pushing the technology, 56% of 4000 Americans and Canadians quizzed by Accenture are now aware of mobile payments, up four per cent on last year.
Yet the regular use - at least weekly - of mobile payments remains flat at 19%, way below the numbers for cash and cards.
Although there has been a drop of seven percentage points in the number of North Americans using cash in store at least once a week, 60% still use paper money. Debit card use has remained flat at 59% and credit cards have seen a three percentage point bump to 53%.
There is some optimism about mobile wallets, with survey respondents predicting a 60% increase in the use of options provided by card networks and tech giants by 2020, although this would still mean less than a quarter of the population paying by phone.
"The existing payments system isn’t broken, which is why consumers are not making a mass-move to mobile phone payments adoption - the incentives are not there yet," says Michael Abbott, MD, Accenture digital, financial services, North America lead.
"Today’s mobile phone payments options provide basic, first-generation functionality; it’s like running an Atari game on an Xbox system - amazing underlying potential, but only providing a very basic offering. Consumers expect more in today’s fast-paced digital environment; just the ability to tap-and-pay is not enough. Payments providers need to bring the traditional card to life and create a real-time interactive experience for consumers."
There are no clear favourites when it comes to which providers will win over mobile customers. Nearly three-quarters say they trust traditional card providers the most as their mobile payments provider, compared to 63% for alternative payments providers like PayPal, 62% for established retail banks, and 59% for large tech companies.
Of those who have used mobile payments apps in store, respondents most frequently use their bank’s mobile app (26%), and three quarters say they are satisfied with this experience.
Millennials and those earning over $100,000 annually after taxes are natural segments to target, says Accenture. More than half of both groups consider themselves to be among the first to try new technologies and nearly one-third are extremely interested in initiating payments transactions using wearables or smart devices, such as refrigerators and cars.
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