Nearly 60% of merchants using ShopKeep's tablet-based mobile point of sale software predict that half of consumers will be using mobile payments as a primary payment form by 2018.

But it will be slow going, as 87% of those merchants say they have not seen customers increase adoption of mobile payment technology in the past six months, according to ShopKeep's latest survey of small-business merchants. Because of that, they are seeing very few mobile pay transactions.

But that trend could change as more consumers see others using smartphones for payments and they view inserting EMV chip cards as being cumbersome.

"In every upgrade cycle there are always early adopters who embrace new technologies from the get-go, but the bulk of consumers can be a bit slower to come around in the early stages," said ShopKeep CEO Michael DeSimone. "With mobile payments technology in particular, the key to adoption will be about changing both consumer and merchant habits at checkout, which may take a while."

New York-based ShopKeep surveyed 1,954 of its merchants during the first quarter of 2016 to establish the current ShopKeep Small Business Index. More than 5,700 ShopKeep merchants provided data for additional findings, including, on average: a 15% increase in sales revenue, and an 11% increase in total number of sales transactions.

In a previous survey from the fall of 2015, ShopKeep found that even though mobile pay adoption was slow, merchants who could accept Apple Pay were beginning to see a preference for that mobile wallet scheme.ShopKeep has not rushed its merchants to adopt EMV chip cards at the point of sale, but the company has been educating more clients about its software's ability to integrate into Apple Pay and other Near Field Communication mobile pay schemes.

The EMV shift has brought payment technology adoption "to an interesting point," DeSimone said, because it is forcing consumers into new habits at the point of sale by inserting chip cards rather than the traditional mag-stripe swipe they used in the past.

Because EMV transactions are taking a bit longer, consumers will notice that mobile payments are faster, DeSimone added.

"We think the take up on mobile payments will accelerate over the next couple of years as they offer a more seamless way to pay," DeSimone said.

ShopKeep also believes as more merchants have the capability to accept mobile payments, and advertise the fact that they do, the industry will begin to see a significant increase in use.

"At ShopKeep, we are always working to ensure that our merchants have access to the latest technology, tools, and information they need to accept all forms of payment, including mobile payments," DeSimone said.

ShopKeep's cloud-based POS software that allows merchants to convert tablets and mobile devices into payment terminals generally targets small businesses and quick-service or medium-sized restaurants.

In the current study released this week, merchants also see themselves in the same position as their customers when it comes to mobile payment adoption, as 57% said were not currently using mobile payments or considering them in the future. Another 29% said they would use mobile wallets if more stores accepted the technology.

In addition to monitoring mobile payment trends, ShopKeep also found that 88% of small business owners are confident in the current state of their business, an 8% decline compared to the first quarter of 2015. Despite that drop, 72% of merchants reported an increase in revenue over the past six months and 96% feel their businesses will be successful a year from now.

ShopKeep, which provides service to 22,000 merchants, uses the small business index as a tool to monitor trends, gather data and better serve its customers as part of its strategy to increase scale and provide 24/7 customer care support. 

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