Nearly two-thirds of U.S. cardholders are familiar with at least one form of mobile payment, marking an awareness trend that continues to rise and could ultimately translate to higher adoption and usage rates.
But does awareness translate to usage? It might — 74% of consumers who have not used any of the major mobile payment apps say they are interested in doing so in the future, according to new research from Auriemma Consulting Group.
Mobile wallets have had a difficult time attracting a wide user base. Even at the end of 2016, most consumers stick to older payment methods. According to Auriemma's data, PayPal in-store was used by 18% of respondents, followed by Walmart Pay at 14%. Apple Pay, at 8%, was slightly higher than Android Pay and Samsung Pay.
Auriemma conducted a web-based survey of 800 adult cardholders in the U.S. during October to compile data for its report, published in December.
Buried in those figures are signs of momentum. Walmart Pay and PayPal in-store payments enjoyed a sharp increase in interest from cardholders, compared to the results of research conducted earlier in the year.
The research also indicates that mobile payment platforms are benefiting from the migration to EMV chip cards at the point of sale in the U.S. Newer EMV-compatible terminals also support mobile payments, which consumers perceive to be faster than inserting a chip-card.
Indeed, Auriemma's Mobile Pay Tracker revealed that three-quarters of mobile pay users (i.e., Apple, Android or Samsung Pay users), say needing to insert their chip card into a reader has made them more likely to switch to their respective mobile payment option.
The majority of cardholders also say mobile payment services are better than magstripe cards when it comes to convenience, speed and receipt tracking.
However, about a quarter of non-users say they haven’t used Apple, Android or Samsung Pay "because they’re still too busy figuring out chip cards," said Jaclyn Holmes, senior manager of payments insights for Auriemma Consulting Group.
"In some ways the chip card experience, often perceived as slow or inconvenient, albeit safer, has enabled mobile payment adoption," Holmes added. "But for some, it’s been too much change all at once."
As much as anything, mobile payments will see a continued, though modest, rise in adoption and usage because more consumers continue to upgrade their mobile devices, Holmes said.
"It creates a larger population of eligible device owners," she added. "Simultaneously, the proportion of the eligible users that are using mobile payments has risen slightly over the course of 2016."
But detractors remain, as 27% of cardholders who have conducted chip card and mobile payments rate the mobile experience as worse. That number is up from only 14% in November of 2015.
Clearly, brand loyalty affects mobile wallet adoption. For this survey period, 88% of Apple device owners said they were either very loyal or somewhat loyal to their brand. That was on par with Samsung and Android, both at 89%.
This is especially striking given that the survey period overlapped the start of Samsung's voluntary recall of its flagship Note 7 smartphones, which were at risk of spontaneous combustion.
"We had not originally suspected that Samsung loyalty would have matched — and in some cases, surpassed — Apple loyalty," Holmes said.
P-to-P payment platforms are also earning more notice from cardholders, with 56% saying they were familiar with at least one service. Of those, Google Wallet at 39% topped the list, with PayPal at 37% and Chase QuickPay at 28%. However, among the 31% who actually use a P-to-P app, PayPal was the most popular.
Interest in future use of a P-to-P app remained high at 77%, with most platforms showing slight upticks. Only Square Cash and Facebook Payments remained flat.
Regardless of these trends, payment cards are holding strong. Use of cards or checking accounts for recurring payments enjoyed increased popularity, with 82% of cardholders who have bills or services that offer recurring payments having enrolled for that service. That can be good news for the banks.
"The true benefit for banks of linking a payment card or account to a recurring payment comes from the loyalty it helps the customer build with the bank," Holmes said. "Being able to avoid fees for missed or late payments is the biggest benefit to cardholders, and this service reflects positively on the bank relationship."