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Can Mobile Payments Become the Top Way to Pay?

Mobile payments are proliferating rapidly. Where it was once a niche solution only used by technophiles, it’s now become a mainstream payments option. Mobile payments can be accessed by anyone through dozens of different services. Major phone manufacturers have built their own mobile wallets. New apps have capitalized on updated hardware for greater flexibility. Businesses have developed their own tools to keep customers connected and even major banks are allowing consumers to pay with their phones.

The smartphone is now a digital wallet.  Consumers now have a variety of payment and loyalty apps from which to choose.  Payment type will depend on which places they visit most and which have the most compelling offers at the time.

Given this proliferation of mobile payment options, it’s time to ask: Could mobile payments actually become the predominant way we pay? Sure, the explosive growth would seem to indicate that the answer is “yes”.  But other factors like interoperability, loyalty and even geography need to be considered before coming to any type of conclusion.

Where Mobile Fits In

Before recently, mobile payments were mostly considered a niche technology, and there was some confusion over it. Mobile payments can be broken down into two distinct parts: payments accepted through a mobile device via a dongle or card reader, and payments made with a mobile device.

The State of Mobile

Mobile payments aren’t necessarily new; after all, Google Wallet debuted in 2011. However, the ecosystem needed time to be built, which meant buy-in from consumers and businesses was necessary. The technology has since matured thanks in part to mobile competition. Apple launched Apple Pay with the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch.  This galvanized its huge popularity and user base. A mere 72 hours after the service launched, 1 million cards were registered to it. In order to keep pace, Google developed Android Pay.  They began encouraging manufacturers who produce Android phones to incorporate near field communication (the technology Apple and Android rely on for payments) in their new devices.

A Road Full of Promise

There are plenty of reasons to doubt the long-term viability of mobile payments.  This is true especially in terms of becoming the primary way people pay. That said, the potential far outstrips any concerns.   Most concerns are being addressed and will be ironed out as the technology goes from being a new offering to a standard piece of equipment.

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Credit:  Cayan Payment Technologies.

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