Mobile payments have grown considerably during the past few years as technology and business models evolved and people became more familiar and comfortable with mobile technology. The sector got a big boost this week – one that may create considerable new momentum – as Walmart said that its Android and iOS apps can be used at all 4,600 of its stores nationwide.
The category certainly shows positive momentum. Last month, Parks Associates released research that found that one quarter of U.S. smartphone owners use payment apps at least once monthly and that more than 3 million retailers use Apple Pay and Android Pay. Consumers, the research found, prefer retailer-specific apps. The top three areas payment apps are used for are food and drink, clothing and event tickets.
The category, however, is still a bit confused. The Bloomberg story on Walmart’s move says that it will compete with Apple, Alphabet, Samsung and others who offer their own approach to mobile payments. The very existence of those and other competitors, as well as the fact that more than 20 million people regularly use the Walmart app, attests to the fact that it has taken root.
Despite the high numbers, progress could be faster, at least according to a post at Samsung’s website. The unsigned commentary points to conflicting data from the Pew Charitable Trusts. About 80 percent of respondents said that they wanted firms to take steps to better protect collected data. However, the researchers also found that “consumers are generally unaware of what data on them is being collected and how it’s being used.”
Such conflicting input points to confusion, which almost certainly hurts uptake. The post said that Samsung is responding to the concerns. What it doesn’t say is that the company is taking steps despite the lack of clarity on the part of customers and potential customers. The bottom line: When in doubt, do something that is both proactive – and appears to be proactive.
The mobile payment industry has come a tremendous distance during the last five years from both a technical and marketing perspective. Continuing to clear up lingering confusion caused by the parallel existence of retailer-specific and operating system-specific choices and concerns about security will enable the sector to continue to grow.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at [email protected] and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.