Slideshow Data: The vastly different views of mobile

Published
  • August 30 2017, 10:09am EDT
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Ask any consumer what their most-used mobile wallet is, and you'll get one answer. Ask an issuer or a merchant, and the answer could be vastly different. Here's why.

The consumer perspective

A new report by Auriemma Consulting Group provides fresh data on consumer adoption of mobile payments and digital wallets in the U.S. Apple Pay comes out on top in terms of usage, with 29% of consumers who have made an online purchase stating that they have used Apple Pay in the last month.

But the bigger story is further down in the rankings...

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While Apple leads the pack in terms of adoption, its main competitors — Android Pay and Samsung Pay — are beat out by mainstream payments brands such as Visa and PayPal.

This is due to the more versatile nature of Visa Checkout and PayPal for both physical and online transactions, plus a greater level of awareness and trust in these brands versus the capabilities offered by Android Pay and Samsung Pay, which are both relative newcomers and not traditionally associated with payments. Further, Android handset users are unlikely to use both Samsung Pay and Android Pay — this fragmentation doesn’t occur on Apple handsets.

Walmart also nudges out Android Pay and Samsung Pay, which speaks to not only the sheer number of Walmart shoppers in the U.S. but also the attributes of trust and awareness that Walmart has developed by being a household name. Walmart also has the significant advantage over Android Pay and Samsung Pay of being able to market Walmart Pay at the point of purchase in a way that its digital competitors can only dream of.

The issuer perspective

Issuers have a different lens on the mobile wallet market compared to consumers.

For issuers, digital wallets are more multipurpose than simply an alternative way to pay — they have the ability for FIs to associate with cutting-edge digital brands through co-marketing and advertising. This may explain why 74% of debit card issuers are live with Apple Pay, according to a recent study by Discover / Pulse.

But how long can Apple stay at the head of the pack?

Apple arguably has more brand cachet than the offerings from Samsung and Google. Despite Google being first out of the gate with Google Wallet, Apple made a concerted effort to enroll issuers en masse prior to the launch of Apple Pay in 2014.

Since then, the “halo effect” of Apple Pay has diminished as more and more issuers have come on board, which has led to issuers taking a more agnostic approach to partnerships to provide consumers with choice. Samsung Pay and Android Pay lag Apple Pay by 20 percentage points or more, but can be expected to catch up as issuers take a more inclusive approach to digital payments.

As further evidence of the end of the honeymoon period for Apple, Google and Samsung, a number of issuers are choosing to develop their own mobile wallets such as Chase Pay. This is a sign that OEM digital wallets are no longer special and puts control of digital real estate back into the hands of banks rather than third party wallets. Banks know that consumers don’t choose a smartphone based on brand loyalty to a mobile wallet.

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The merchant perspective

Beyond consumer adoption and issuer support, a third perspective on mobile payments is the actual number of retail transactions that occur.

In this realm, Samsung Pay has surprisingly outgunned Apple Pay and Android Pay in the number of transactions that occur per month. At the checkout, adoption of EMV technology can be seen to have a measurable impact as a gating factor on adoption given the inconsistent support of the standard and by proxy, NFC technology that provides the connective tissue between Apple and Google’s payment solutions and the POS hardware.

But Samsung isn't playing by the same rules as its rivals...

The Samsung way

Samsung Pay’s MST technology, which mimics magnetic stripe cards, has the capability to work retroactively with older POS terminals — and the tech giant hasn’t been shy about making this known to consumers.

Further, Samsung Pay is notable in offering a loyalty points program for usage, something conspicuously absent from both Apple Pay and Android Pay.

While adoption of all three of these mobile payment platforms can be described as tepid, early lessons could be gleaned from Samsung’s attempts to engage consumers with incentives for learning to use a new paradigm of payment.