Friday, 13 April 2012

Mobile payments – is the public ready to trust yet?

On the surface of things, it is unsurprising that figures released this week suggest that mobile payments are the future.  KPMG predicts that global m-payment transactions will grow 97% per year, over the next three years, reaching a value of £591 billion by 2015. They are not the only ones who think this is true; business intelligence consultancy, Berg Insight, says there will be 894m worldwide users of mobile banking by 2015.

Yet, when Barclay’s Pingit, a mobile app which allows the peer-to-peer money transfer via a mobile phone, was released in February 2012, the reaction was mixed.  Naturally there was much fanfare about this innovative step; the videos showing a group of friends going out for a meal and splitting the bill with their mobiles made many wonder how we have ever survived without such a tool.  Yet the announcement also raised questions, specifically around how secure such payment methods are.

Barclays assured the public that Pingit payments are as secure as any regular banking transaction, yet public reaction remained varied.  At the time of the announcement, The Telegraph ran an online poll entitled, ‘Do you trust mobile phone banking?’ 49.05% stated that they trust this method, whilst 22.83% said no.  A significant 28.12% said they will trust mobile phone banking in the future, but they aren’t there yet.  These figures, and our experience from Internet banking, suggest that the public will come round to trusting such services, but financial institutions and telecoms companies still have to reassure and educate users.

The forecasts released this week allow us to assume that consumers will be won over in the battle between convenience and security.  It’s not hard to see why; the next generation of consumers coming through expect to be able to make real-time, cashless payments.  It is also clear when we look to other markets – in Japan about 50% of all grocery payments are already made by mobile phones – that there is public demand for this service.  Furthermore, there is the argument that mobile payments are at least as secure as any other financial transfer. In which case, once the convenience factor is demonstrated, it won’t be long before consumers start to leave behind their security worries and embrace mobile payments.

No, the public may not be ready to trust yet, but it’s only a matter of time.

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