Mobile Payments: Making a Comeback


Consumer Use of Mobile Payments Rebounds. Mercator Advisory Group survey finds that U.S. consumers’ use of mobile payments has rebounded to levels seen in 2016.

Author: Peter Reville
Published on: October 31, 2019


Mercator Advisory Group’s most recent consumer survey report, Mobile Payments: Making a Comeback, from the bi-annual North American PaymentsInsights series, reveals that the use of mobile wallets by U.S. consumers has rebounded to 2016 levels or higher after a two-year decline.

The use of any mobile payment has increased from 48% in 2018 to 60% in 2019. In comparison, in 2016 53% reported using a mobile wallet. Similar findings are seen when usage of universal mobile payment and digital services wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay is separated from usage of retailer-specific wallets like those of Starbucks and Walmart.

Online service providers with built-in payments like Uber and Airbnb have also seen impressive growth from 2018 (36% vs 28%).

Mobile is increasingly becoming a major part of consumer shopping in the U.S. Six in 10 report either browsing or shopping via mobile device in 2019. Mobile shopping is much more common among younger adults than others. For example, 57% of consumers 18 to 34 years or age have purchased a product or services through their smartphone compared to 19% of those 65 or older.

The use of conversational interfaces through a device like a smartphone or smart speaker is currently relatively low. Two in 10 (22%) use the conversational interface on their smartphone and about 1 in 10 (12%) are using a smart speaker. The use of these interfaces for payment transactions (bill pay, ordering food, and purchasing goods and services) still has room to grow.

Mobile Payments: Making a Comeback, the latest report from Mercator Advisory Group’s Primary Data Service, is based on a sample of 3,002 U.S. adults surveyed in the annual online Payments survey of Mercator’s North American PaymentsInsights series, conducted in June 2019.

The study highlights consumers’ use and interest in mobile devices, the use of mobile wallets, how people use mobile wallets to shop, and the use of conversational interfaces.

“There was a lot of hype around the release of mobile wallets a few years ago and, once people started using them, they may have encountered spotty acceptance of mobile payments and app difficulties and stopped using them. We are seeing a resurgence of usage in 2019 with increased acceptance at the point of sale, increased online use, and increased customer comfort,” stated the author of the report, Peter Reville, director of Primary Data Services at Mercator Advisory Group, which includes the North American PaymentsInsights series.

This report in slide form is 55 pages long.

Companies mentioned in the survey results shown include: Airbnb, Amazon, Apple, Booker, Chase, Fandango, Google, Lyft, OpenTable, Samsung, Uber, and Wells Fargo.


Highlights of this report include:

  • Reported smartphone ownership over time
  • Passwords and other methods for unlocking mobile devices
  • Cards loaded into the mobile wallet – credit, debit, prepaid
  • Frequency of the number of mobile payments made
  • Awareness and usage of the prepaid card websites available
  • Motivators to mobile wallet usage
  • Comparison of mobile wallets to plastic
  • Shopping with mobile
  • The use of order-ahead services
  • The use of conversational interfaces.
  • Paying for things with a voice interface



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