Mobile Wallets Have Uphill Climb to Consumer Acceptance

Will mobile wallets take off in the US? If marketers, carriers and other service providers expect technology that allows mobile phones to act as credit or debit cards to gain wide acceptance, they have a lot of work to do to convince consumers to adopt.
According to March 2012 panel-based research by marketing solutions agency Catapult, just one-quarter of US consumers were at least somewhat interested in using a mobile wallet for in-store purchases. In contrast, 58% were uninterested—including 41% who reported a complete lack of interest. Correspondingly, in January 2012, market research firm TNS found that 60% of US mobile phone users were not interested in mobile wallet technology.

Interest Among US Consumers in Using Mobile Wallet Technology to Pay for Items In-Store, March 2012 (% of respondents)

Unsurprisingly, privacy and security were a major concern for respondents to Catapult’s survey. Nearly three-quarters of respondents said a mobile wallet would make them at least somewhat concerned about mobile phone theft—already an issue for many smartphone owners. And even more (91%) said they would worry about maintaining their privacy, including two-thirds who would be “very concerned” about this.
If those issues weren’t hard enough for proponents of mobile wallets to overcome, another problem remains: convincing consumers of the overall utility of the technology. About one-third of respondents said mobile wallets would be a more convenient way to pay, with 28% specifically citing coupons sent straight to the phone as an anticipated benefit and 24% citing faster checkouts as a draw. But fully half of respondents said they saw no benefit to having a mobile wallet.

Benefits of Using Mobile Wallet Technology to Pay for Items In-Store According to US Consumers, March 2012 (% of respondents)

If marketers and service providers are relying on education to convince mobile users that it will be safe to keep even more personal information on their phone, including credit card or bank account info that can be used to carry out purchases via the device, they would do well to keep in mind that it is not only privacy and theft concerns that they will need to overcome. They will also need to educate consumers of the benefits of leaving behind that old-fashioned wallet in favor of a phone.

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