NEW YORK: The value of contactless payments made in the US is set to double to $1bn in 2013, before rising even more rapidly to reach a potential $58bn by 2017, new research has suggested.

Insights provider eMarketer, defining contactless payments as transactions for goods or services made by scanning, tapping, swiping or checking in with a mobile phone at the point of sale, analysed the market presence of major mobile payment players, adoption rates for smartphone and mobile payment systems as well as retail spending trends to arrive at these figures.

The eMarketer report observed that the market was growing more slowly than previously anticipated because of "a congested landscape of competing technologies" and various delays facing the many mobile wallet initiatives.

The majority of consumers utilising this payment method in the near term are expected to be light users experimenting with low-value purchases, such as a daily coffee. The annual average spend per user was $76.20 in 2012, predicted to rise to $95.95 in 2013 and $152.54 in 2014.

Faster growth in subsequent years is likely as consumers adopt mobile payments for a wider range of goods and services at a correspondingly wider range of price points.

This diversification was, said eMarketer, "critical to driving habitual consumption, which is crucial for moving mobile payments into the mainstream".

Just 6% of smartphone users had made a contactless payment in 2012, but this total was set to rise to 8% in 2013 and to 27% by 2017.

A vital contingent assumption raised by the report was that more mainstream merchants will start to accept mobile payments. eMarketer noted that "NFC adoption remains a wild card".

Another limiting factor was the fragmented mobile wallet landscape, and if there were "adoption clusters" around particular versions this could see mobile wallets making rapid inroads with both consumers and merchants, eMarketer suggested.

Data sourced from eMarketer; additional content by Warc staff