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January 29, 2016 // 11:14 AM

Mobile Payments: Awesome or Overhyped?

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So, we’re firm believers that your buyers should have several different options when it’s time to pay for their purchases. You don’t want to lose a sale just because you only take credit cards and your buyer only uses PayPal. What happens when buyers have way too many options for mobile and online payments?

The Walmart of Mobile Payments

No, really, Walmart decided to release their own mobile payment program called Walmart Pay. Who wants to play second fiddle to Apple forever? Not Walmart, that’s for sure. And with a retail app that boasts 22 million active users, a mobile payment option seems like the right way to go, right? If buyers are on board enough to download and use your app, then they’re probably all in on the payment options, too. 

Well, buyers weren’t quite so impressed with the Walmart Pay option. It’s not that it didn’t work or that it didn’t offer a viable payment solution. Buyers simply had their payment plans worked out already. Why make the switch from the payment option they’d always used just because Walmart introduced something new?

Apple’s Not So Awesome, Either

We know that 4.9% of Apple Pay eligible sales were actually paid with Apple Pay during the holiday shopping period of 2014. It was new technology, and surely the idea would eventually catch on. That optimism should have led to a higher number of Apple Pay purchases on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but it didn’t.

This year, during the holiday shopping period, Apple Pay eligible transactions actually almost halved. Instead of growing, only 2.7% of eligible sales were completed through Apple Pay. Isn’t this supposed to be the answer to all online sales? Seems consumers disagree.

Growth in Awareness and Use

With over half of online purchases made this past year on mobile devices, it’s obvious buyers love the convenience of mobile shopping. Of those buyers, 52% only recently realized that their phones could be used as a payment device. Did they jump immediately into using Apple Pay or another mobile payment option?


Since its introduction, the use of mobile payment has only increased by 1% year over year. That’s a pretty clear sign that consumers just aren’t that into it. What’s not entirely clear is why buyers have been slow to adopt mobile payment options.

What Would Change Things?

In the face of overwhelming proof that consumers need to feel safe when making online purchases, mobile payment options consistently take that secure feeling out of the payment process. Yes, sellers need to remove as much friction as possible between the “want” and “own” stages, but some friction is necessary. When buyers don’t need to enter passwords or PINs, they may feel as though the payment process is too easy. And if it’s too easy for them, it’s easy for someone who might attempt to steal their financial information.

Then again, maybe the market is just too saturated as it is. Those who enjoy using online wallets may just stick with their years-old PayPal account, while the rest are fine entering their credit card information any time they want to make a purchase. To interrupt the status quo may require a great deal more innovation than we’ve seen so far.

What are your thoughts about the slow adoption of mobile wallets? 

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Topics: Ecommerce

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