Mobile payments have failed to wow consumers in the 15 months since Apple Pay launched, but adults under age 25 may provide a clue to the technology’s future.
Unlike the general population, more than half of U.S. consumers between 18 and 24, or “Generation Z,” are primed to use smartphones for making routine purchases, a new study suggests.
Among the youngest set of adults, 53% said they expect to make “more and more transactions” from mobile devices, compared with only 27% of the general population who share that view, according to global research firm GfK, which surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults last year.
The generational divide is due in part to each group's perception of security.
Asked whether mobile payments are more secure than other payment methods, 31% of Generation Z respondents said yes, while only 6% of Baby Boomers said they believe mobile payments are more secure.
Mobile devices including smartphones and tablets currently account for about 3% of all U.S. transactions, the survey suggests, but Generation Z said they use mobile devices for 7% of their transactions.
The survey results point to “an opportunity for the industry to develop its own narrative around why people should use mobile devices to pay for their purchases,” playing up security, speed and ease of use in payments, GfK’s researchers concluded.
Other researchers focused on the bottom line, including equity research firm Keefe, Bruyette & Woods (KBW) and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, aren’t so sure.
“Mobile payments have not really panned out relative to the hype surrounding them,” said KBW in a Feb. 22 in note to investors. But KBW suggested mobile payments may pave the way to improvements in mobile commerce, including better ways to deliver loyalty and rewards to consumers.
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta payments experts agree that mobile payments are a long way off from broad adoption.
“While the adoption pace of mobile payments is growing because of the increasing influence of millennials, the issues of limited merchant acceptance points, fragmentation and consumer concerns over security and privacy will remain as substantial hurdles,” said analysts with the Fed’s Retail Payments Risk Forum in a Feb. 22 blog post.