Mercator Blog

Mobile Payment Adoption in U.S. Stalls With Half of Consumers Using Mobile Payments
Date: November 14, 2018
Karen Augustine
Manager, Primary Data Services

As mobile technology approaches near full penetration in the United States, consumers rely heavily on their smartphones to access and share information for managing their everyday and financial lives. Mobile shopping has become familiar to most of them, who find it useful for price comparison and learning more about products of interest even when they are in stores. Consumers now often shop online to improve their in-store shopping experience. E-commerce and m-commerce sales are rising, and online retailers have become more competitive, which has resulted in bankruptcies and closings of brick-and-mortar stores. Now that Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and other universal mobile payment apps from national banks such as Wells Fargo and Chase have been in the market for a few years and mobile banking apps are expanding functionality to include person-to-person payments, mobile payments is becoming more familiar to a wider audience. The market appears to be stalled, however. The core mobile payment users have not budged too far from the early adoption led by the young adults. 


The proliferation of mobile technology as well as online and mobile banking piqued consumers’ interest in many forms of mobile payments. With all the hype over several years, however, consumers appear to be losing interest in some of the new mobile payments. Young adults continue to drive use among a broad range of mobile payments in stores and online. 


Mobile payers are inherently oriented toward rewards or incentives delivered via their smartphones, but they require more than a convenient way to pay if they are to engage in consistent use mobile payments at store checkout terminals. Consumers participating in the 2018 payments survey in our CustomerMonitor Survey Series keep reminding us that they want mobile payments to do more than just pay for purchases. It has to offer more benefits than simply paying for items, a function they can do quickly with traditional plastic payment cards, which now have the security of an EMV chip. So consumers want more of an incentive to use mobile. Even online, fewer consumers than previously are interested in loading a new mobile payment app to pay if there are no other benefits to its use. Early adopters are using mobile payments more frequently, but the appeal is not broadening much beyond them. 


The Mercator Advisory Group 2018 payments survey, addressed in the Insight Summary Report Mobile Payments: Still Waiting for Broader Adoption in the U.S., had two main purposes. The first purpose was to determine the U.S. mobile payments landscape, defined by U.S. consumers’ familiarity with mobile interactions, including mobile shopping, and which segments of the customer base are most likely to use mobile payments. The second purpose was to identify some critical success factors that will be needed in order for mobile payments to reach significant mass in the United States as well as the processes that U.S. consumers and merchants will adopt for mobile payments, shifts in the payments landscape, consumers’ interest in new forms of mobile payments, and challenges to adoption.