We all know the moment — you’re standing at the cash register, buying a cup of coffee or a pack of gum. The cashier is staring at you, and a half-dozen people are waiting impatiently behind you as you rummage through your pockets for that last quarter that you could have sworn you had, to no avail. While cash may have its benefits, it’s far from being a perfect way to pay.
The very first mobile payment, accomplished via text message, happened over twenty years ago now, and the technology has come a long way since then. In fact, when one stops to consider all the different pieces of our lives that have migrated onto our phones over the past two decades — calendars, address books, notepads, calculators, cameras, and so many others — it seems a little strange that our wallets largely haven’t yet made the leap here in North America. It’s certainly not a matter of inadequate technology. All modern smartphones should be capable of payment via either Near-Field Communication (NFC) or Bluetooth payment technology, and the plethora of mobile payment options is testament to how much faith large companies have in the future of mobile wallets. Between Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay, Walmart Pay, and many others, there is no lack of choices.
The truth is that some other countries have already embraced mobile payments to a far greater degree than North America. In 2016, two-thirds of online payments in China were made using mobile devices. In 2017, available figures suggest that approximately three-quarters of online payments were made using mobile devices. Overall, mobile payments worldwide exceeded $700 billion dollars in 2017, and that was an increase of nearly $500 billion over the previous four years.
It’s not difficult to understand why these increases have happened, of course. As the number of global mobile phone owners continues to rise — it’s expected to reach 5.07 billion by 2019 — people are becoming more and more accustomed to the benefits that mobile phones offer and will continue to seek out greater conveniences as time goes on. Many companies have found innovative ways to turn this consumer drive for convenience into innovative opportunities: Shell and Jaguar, for example, teamed up to launch the world’s first payment system by a car, allowing you to quickly pay for gas via PayPal or Apple Pay using a touchscreen inside the vehicle, appealing to the upscale auto market’s quest for ever-greater luxury. M-Pesa, a mobile payment service introduced by Vodafone in 2007, gives consumers both convenience and security by allowing them to make digital transactions using their mobile phones where they once would have had to use physical money. M-Pesa charges a small fee for sending and withdrawing money using the service, but this has not deterred users, who are attracted to the safety of not having to carry cash.
At this point, mobile payments are an inevitability, that much is clear. The market is ripe for creative new entries or applications, and organizations that can take advantage of the increasing consumer desire for convenient, quick, and safe mobile payment options will find themselves on the forefront of a major trend. To better capitalize on mobile payments, seeking out the advice and guidance of an experienced mobile app development company will be an extremely prudent decision. An agile developer will bring the necessary skill, experience, and passion to help businesses maximize the use of mobile payments, no matter what form they take.
In late 2016, Visa surveyed more than 36,000 consumers across 19 European countries regarding their mobile payment habits. They found that 54% of respondents regularly used mobile devices to make payments for a range of activities. This number on its own is encouraging, but when compared to the results of the previous year, that result is astonishing: one year prior, when the same survey had been conducted, the number had only been 18%, which means that over the span of only a single year the number of people regularly using mobile payments had tripled. Will this trend continue to grow, and will it make significant inroads here in North America? The smart money says yes.