Mobile payments may be where things are headed, but most Americans are still holding tight to their debit and credit cards.
According to a Harris Poll of 2,383 adults, only 4% had used a smartphone to pay for a purchase. Another 8% had seen someone else pull out their smartphone at the register. Even though they aren’t using them much now, two-thirds of those surveyed believe that smartphone payments will replace credit and debit cards for most purchases in the future.
Who and when?
That future is more than five years down the road according to the 67% of respondents that said plastic cards are going the way of the dinosaurs. When asked if this will happen in the next five years, only 32% said yes. And many of them don’t see it in the picture for themselves. Only 16% of current smartphone users said they were “very interested” in using their phones to process payments.
Predictably, younger people were more excited about the possibility of using their phones to make payments. The study grouped respondents into four age demographics – Echo Boomers (18-35), Gen Xers (36-47), Baby Boomers (48-66), and Matures (67 and older). The youngest group, Echo Boomers, is the most likely to make use of smartphone payment options, with 40% of them expressing interest compared to only 18% of Baby Boomers.
Men and women also differed in their responses, with 32% of men interested in smartphone payments compared to only 22% of women. People with children were slightly more interested as well – 38% of parent surveyed as compared to 22% for childless households said they were interested in the new technology.
Concerns about security not the only issue
As they anticipate a card and cashless future, many people are worried about security, though that was not the only reason cited as a deterrent. Survey participants who were not interested in paying with smartphones gave the following reasons for their disinterest (results do not add up to 100% because multiple responses were allowed):
- 52% Content with cash and cards, see no reason to switch
- 51% Worried about storing private information on phone
- 50% Don’t even use a smartphone
- 40% Worried about transmitting personal information to merchant devices
Mobile payments on the horizon
Although consumers have yet to fully embrace the mobile wallet trend, new digital wallet apps are being developed every day. The idea of being able to leave wallets at home and use a phone instead may only interest 30% of the folks surveyed, but consumers are unlikely to be able to resist the wave of the future. Just as debit cards replaced checkbooks for the most part, mobile payments may eventually replace wallets.