Mobile wallets showcase many features that could transform the way consumers pay, but for many users the most appealing feature is the ability to make sense of all their receipts.

PayPal is learning this as it walks consumers through the Commerce Innovation Center it opened in New York in November.

PayPal "created this incredibly in-depth experience for the future of shopping … and one of the key things [consumers] latch onto is e-receipts," says Anuj Nayar, PayPal's senior director of corporate communications.

This anecdotal observation is supported by a study released by the Carlisle and Gallagher Consulting Group last week. The study showed 48% of the consumers surveyed were interested in mobile wallets, and that receipt and documentation management was the second-most desired feature behind payment choice. It trumped real-time incentives, search and shop and sharing purchases.

Sixty-five percent of respondents designated payment choice as their most desired feature in a mobile wallet. Managing receipts and documentation was a close second at 57%. Real-time incentives was 55%, search and shop was 47% and ratings and reviews was 45%. The ability to share purchases online mattered to just 10% of respondents.

Receipt management is popular because it is a useful feature with a tangible benefit, Nayar says.

"No consumer has come to any technology company and said, 'Give me a mobile wallet,'" Nayar says. "The current [payment system] works for what it needs to already."

Lemon Inc. built its wallet app around account management rather than payments. It lets users store 25 receipts per month for free, or 500 receipts per month if they pay for an upgraded service that costs $4.99 a month or $39.99 for a full year. Paying customers can also share receipts with up to five people and export their receipt data as a spreadsheet or for use with third-party services.

Currently Lemon has 2.5 million users, of which 15% use its service to manage receipts, says Wences Casares, founder and CEO of Lemon.

"Consumers and their actions show they don't care about paying with a mobile device at point of sale … at least not yet," Casares says. "We've seen a number of wallets try to tell consumers what a wallet should be, especially around payments, and these have no traction or adoption."

Especially for the older demographic, receipt management is a helpful tool for streamlining expense management, says Bob Egan, founder and managing director at The Sepharim Group.

Plus "even though it's not talked about, people are still trying to get rid of paper; it's messy and people lose it," he adds. 

While not a mobile wallet per se, Expensify is an expense management application that allows users to import transactions and receipts directly from Evernote and other archiving software suites, managing them via PC or mobile device. Users of Lemon's paid service can also export receipt data to Expensify.

"Personal organization management in general is a big motivator behind wallets," Egan says.

Some mobile wallets, such as Isis and Google Wallet, might be over-reaching by focusing on the use of Near Field Communication chips for contactless payments, says Egan. Companies such as Starbucks Corp. and Dunkin' Brands Inc. are seeing success with the lower-tech approach of using bar codes displayed on a phone's screen.

"We're going to see a lot of companies that have the intent to capitalize on mobile payments but don't have the staying power," he says. "The failure of these so-called wallets is that they try to be too many things to too many people."

SCVNGR's LevelUp is another noteworthy mobile wallet provider because of the company's strong focus on helping small businesses, Egan says.

Aaron McPherson, practice director for payments and security at IDC Financial Insights, says Apple Inc.'s iTunes could also be considered a wallet because it stores payment credentials.

Apple retail stores also use mobile devices to handle purchases and returns. The company sends receipts by email, and users can check their smartphones to see the receipt before they leave the store.

"Before we compare mobile wallets we have to define mobile wallets," McPherson says.

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