Mobile Payment: Consumers Dream. If Only They Knew

Mobile Payment: Consumers Dream. If Only They Knew

By: Shelly Kramer
July 2, 2012

Consumers slow to adopt mobile paymentsMobile device usage is on the upswing, but that’s not news. And recent data that shows mobile payments are on the rise really shouldn’t be news, either. More and more consumers are opting to tap into their omnipresent devices for mobile payment solutions to make life easier and more convenient

For instance, I pay my mortgage payment using an app, pay my credit card bill using an app, get coffee using my Starbucks app, order Chipotle when I’m having a craving (and pay for it) using an app—and if I could shop at my grocery store and use an app or mobile wallet features to pay my bill, I’d gladly do it. In fact, I can’t wait until I can do it.

Mobile Payment Adoption is Slow

Apparently, I’m in the minority when it comes to adopting mobile payment options. Despite the aforementioned research, other stats show that while the transaction value of mobile payments is on the rise, the payment type is slow to catch on among consumers. Starbucks is currently one of the most popular mobile payment destinations—but beyond that, consumers seem to be confused about their mobile payment options. And, as a result, aren’t using them all that much.

Mobile payment solutions are there. They’re easy, safe, fast and uber convenient. But people are slow to change and adopt new habits when old ones have been around for a long time. Which also isn’t news.

Consumers:  They Don’t Know What They Don’t Know

Consider this stat from IDC: only 20 percent of people surveyed have purchased a product from a store via their mobile device. Many businesses and brands are creating mobile payment options as part of their larger mobile marketing strategy, and their biggest challenge, at least the way I see it, is educating consumers about the benefits of opting for mobile purchasing and payment options.

In some ways, mobile payment solutions are a lot like QR codes. And the same thing happened with QR codes. Although businesses and people used them (sometimes well, sometimes poorly—but that’s another blog post), consumers largely didn’t adopt them. That doesn’t mean that QR codes are a bad idea—instead, it means they were poorly executed and their target audience not educated about the benefits. Change is good—but you can’t expect your customer base to blindly adopt a new way of doing things without educating them about why it benefits them. Ever.

People don’t know what they don’t know. And just like plopping a QR code on something doesn’t educate customers about why they might want to scan it and what the benefit might be on the other end of that code, having a mobile payment solution without educating customers about why they might want to use it doesn’t lead to adoption.

Challenge to Marketers: Educating Consumers

There’s no doubt mobile payment solutions can be great and offer a lot of cool things for customers like convenience, targeted deals, easy record-keeping, etc. For me, I usually remember to pay my mortgage payment or my credit card bills at the very last minute, so having an app on my phone to facilitate quick and easy payment wherever I happen to be literally saves my you-know-what on a regular basis.

And that’s the challenge to marketers—you can’t expect customers to naturally gravitate to using mobile payment solutions. Instead, you need to develop campaigns that show them how mobile payment solutions benefit them. Consumers need to see and hear messages that show them mobile payment solutions make life easier, save money, save time, save hassles, lead to benefits—you get my drift.

Change of any kind requires education, so when brands are developing and launching mobile payment options, it makes sense to keep in mind that educating their customers has got to be part of the equation. No matter what tool or technology you’re introducing, convenience and customer service are key—and if you can’t articulate clearly and concisely why a customer should want to jump on the bandwagon—where the added value is for them and why it makes sense—mobile payment adoption rates will likely remain low.

What About You?

Where do you stand with regard to mobile payment solutions? Are you, like me, an early adopter and a fan? Or are you happy with the payment solutions you’re already accustomed to and not ready to make a change? What would it take to get you to adopt mobile payment solutions?

And if you’re a brand or an agency that’s already developed mobile payment options, how’s your adoption rate so far? Does it mimic the stats quoted earlier in the post? We’d love to know.

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  • I use my bank app to pay every bill that I can, and if I happen to get a check, I use it to put that check into the bank. I love it! I am like you: If I can use an app to pay for something, I will (Chipotle FTW!). I think, though, that mobile users, specifically, people that understand how to use their devices correctly and to their full capabilities are still in the minority. I still know people that hate self check out at the grocery store because they just don’t get it, or would rather have someone help them. I’m not like that. The less I can talk to people, the better, but not everyone is like me.
    However, I think this will become more normal, as time goes on, and these capabilities become more the norm & easier to use (for those that think they’re “too hard”).

  • Anonymous

    Sounds like me!!!

  • Heidi Massey

    One of my favorite things at the apple store is that I don’t need to stand in line to make a purchase. Whoever helps me can do the transaction right where we had our conversation about the product. And then they email me the receipt. And just the other day I was picking up treats at a vegan/vegetarian bakery which just reopened…and they checked me out with a tablet and square. LOVE it! Didn’t know I could pay at Chipotle that way, (FOR SURE gonna check that out!) but am a VERY big fan of doing all banking by phone. 

    One thing I might differ with you on is QR codes. They are a great idea. But also a pain in the ass. My pharmacy wants me to scan a code on the prescription bottle to refill. It never seems to scan right. It isn’t a user friendly tool. And if I have trouble, then so do loads of other people. I have used QR codes enough to know how to navigate. They just aren’t always user friendly…and I think that was at least partially responsible for their lack of adoption.

    Thanks for another post that is relevant to me as a non-marketing type, but certainly relates to that population as well. Not an easy line to walk, but you seem to do it and do it well, repeatedly!

  • Anonymous

    Awwww, what a lovely compliment, Heidster. I appreciate it.

    I’m with you on the mobile apps and how they make life easier. I’m also a fan of QR codes if the folks using them (1) design them right (2) make sure they provide value to the person who has taken time out of their life to scan and (3) make sense. So many times, they don’t. But when they do all of the foregoing, it makes perfect sense.

    Oh, and Square … LOVE it!!! Receipts emailed to me, LOVE it!!!

    Thanks for coming by, m’dear! Always a pleasure.

  • I think I use my bank’s mobile app more than I do their website. I also try to pay via Square app whenever I can. Lots of local vendors and taprooms are adopting square to accept credit cards. Just this weekend I had to show one of them that I was opening a tab with my Square app.

    But yes, very slow adoption indeed.

  • ShellyKramer

    Hello stranger. Lovely to “see” you …. and clearly, we are birds of a feather. In time, they’ll see the light :))

    Thanks for coming by – I’ve missed you!

  • Hi, Shelly. Thanks for asking this question. I think one of the problems with mobile payment adoption is that there are just way too many different brand-specific solutions. I, and, I believe, most people don’t want to have to download and figure out a different app for every place I do business. I want something as generic as a credit card or a check or (gasp) cash.

    If you want to watch something that might disrupt the whole applecart, watch bitcoin. That’s my two cents (pardon the pun).

  • ShellyKramer

    Hi Joe,

    I’ve actually been paying attention to bitcoin … and totally get what you’re saying. One thing’s for sure — it will be fascinating to see what transpires.

    Thanks for coming by, my friend – it’s always great hearing from you.

  • Thanks for the excellent post. don’t use mobile payment yet, as I can’t see the value in the time saved at a checkout counter. I’ll probably take longer to type in my passcode and select the app than swiping the credit card. I still have to carry my credit card for the foreseeable future, until most merchants accept mobile payment – not sure if it’s a compelling problem. I do use Amazon mobile app for shopping and can understand the bill pay scenario, though I set it up as automatic from the bank’s web site mostly.

    I agree it still needs more time to mature, but an Apple Passbook next version with mobile payments could change the game.

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