Mobile payments to enter mainstream

14 July 2011

NEW YORK: Mobile payments should enter the mainstream within the next four years, according to new global research.

KPMG, the business services firm, surveyed 970 senior executives drawn from the technology, financial, telecoms and retail sectors around the world.

Overall, 83% of participants agreed mobile payments would become a "mainstream" tool in the coming four years, measured against 9% affording it such a status today.

More specifically, 46% of the sample asserted this activity should be a widespread pastime in just two years.

Gary Matuszak, global chair of KPMG's technology, communication and entertainment practice, was even more bullish.

"We believe that exploding smartphone growth and myriad opportunities will grow mobile payments at a much faster rate than our respondents anticipate," he said.

"A wide variety of payments is ready for adoption, as several key players already provide or are rolling out mobile payments, and interest among consumers in utilising mobile payments is growing, in line with the industry's readiness to deploy them."

A majority of contributors concurred that shoppers have security worries linked to completing financial transactions via wireless devices.

Other perceived obstacles incorporate concerns about technological development and take-up, alongside privacy issues.

However, members of the panel also reported there were numerous "more compelling" attributes of this channel which should drive up popular interest.

This included 81% of interviewees who cited convenience and accessibility as the most beneficial characteristic of the mobile medium.

Another 73% mentioned the simplicity and ease-of-use as a key advantage, with security posting 57%, and low costs logging 43%.

Elsewhere, 72% of executives stated mobile payments are either now, or will become, at least "reasonably important" in the future, although gaps existed between mature and emerging markets.

"While there is consensus about the significant value of this opportunity … the type and size of opportunity varies between developed and developing countries depending on depth and reach of the financial infrastructure in place," said Matuszak.

To date, 58% of companies already have a mobile payment strategy, but KPMG argued a mixture of competition and co-operation - or "coopetition" - would soon appear.

"We believe that those firms willing to engage in cross-industry partnerships and 'coopetition' are more likely to succeed and dominate the market due to the complex set of business relationships required to deliver mobile payments," said Matuszak.

When identifying which organisations would potentially play the integral role in creating payment methods, the individuals polled suggested banks and credit card companies will assume the most important positions.

Telcos claimed third spot on this metric, ahead of online payment specialists such as PayPal, owned by eBay.

Online service providers like Google, Facebook and Amazon followed in the rankings, beating retailers and technology companies.

In picking the best payment systems, online service providers headed the way, largely thanks to strong levels of penetration.

Mobile banking was seen as having the second-best prospects, trumping near field communications - or contactless payment - and "m-wallet" tools, which store account and transaction data on SIM cards.

Data sourced from KPMG; additional content by Warc staff