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Did Cyber Monday mark emergence of mobile payments into the mainstream?

Dec 16, 2013 Dave King

For years, payment and banking experts have been marking electronic and mobile transactions as the next frontier in the industry. However, adoption rates for these financial processing tools have been slow, especially for mobile portals. Although smartphone and tablet sales continue to increase across the world, consumers have not embraced mobile payments in the last several years as much as financial leaders expected.

Despite the various barriers to widespread adoption, such as market fragmentation and security concerns, the mobile payment sector may have experienced a watershed moment in the last week.

According to Adobe, the number value of mobile transactions that took place on Cyber Monday hit an unprecedented level. Of all purchases made on Cyber Monday, 18.3 percent were conducted via tablet or smartphone. That marked an 80 percent increase from the previous year. Overall, the value of mobile buys during the e-commerce event was $419 million.

Tablets accounted for the majority of mobile transactions, as Adobe noted 12.7 percent of overall Cyber Monday sales were made with a tablet. The iPad was the most used mobile transaction medium on Cyber Monday, accounting for 10.1 percent of all sales.

A similar survey from IBM provided different results but backed up the sentiment that Cyber Monday may have been the tipping point for the long-awaited mainstream adoption of mobile payments. IBM reported that 17 percent of online sales on Cyber Monday were made on a mobile device, a 55.4 percent spike from last year's mark.

"We continue to see a dramatic movement of the new digitally savvy consumer as Cyber Monday once again proved to be the star of this holiday shopping season," said Jay Henderson of IBM. "The mobile device has become the shopping companion of choice for consumers, driving record mobile sales with 55 percent growth over last year."

Ecommerce increases
Although IBM and Adobe came up with slightly different numbers, the data shows that online payments are increasing. This is especially evident when the lackluster weekend numbers that preceded Cyber Monday are taken into account. Data from the National Retail Federation indicated that overall spending over the usually lucrative post-Thanksgiving weekend declined 2.7 percent from 2012. However, online sales increased 7.2 percent during that same period.

This shows that consumers are starting to embrace mobile and online payment portals. As retailers and transaction processing firms look to the future, they may want to consider implementing mobile solutions.