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More smartphones may mean more mobile payments

Mar 26, 2013 Dave King

In almost every area of the payments sphere, technology adoption is a major driving factor behind success. Without merchants and consumers using advanced systems in their daily lives, it may be impossible for many innovations to catch on. This is certainly true when it comes to mobile payments. If shoppers aren't using smartphones and tablets regularly, then any efforts to make the practice catch on are bound to be fruitless and businesses would be wasting time developing and installing solutions to cater to it. Fortunately, this doesn't seem to be the case, as recent studies show that smartphone use is reaching all-time highs.

Europeans and Americans alike love smartphones
According to, digital business research firm comScore reported 2012 smartphone adoption in Europe's five largest countries (EU5) reached nearly 60 percent on average. In all the nations studied (the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Germany and France), smartphone penetration surpassed 50 percent, though two leaders emerged in the data. Spain took the top spot at 66 percent, while in the U.K., approximately 64 percent of consumers own the devices. Germany was revealed to be the country with the fewest smartphone users, at 51 percent.

Overall, comScore added that these figures are up from 2011. Smartphone penetration rose by 30 percent among the EU5 in 2012. Even more remarkable still may have been growth in tablet use, which jumped 94 percent in 2012 in the countries, comScore discovered.

The research organization expects ownership will continue to rise in 2013, and statistics concerning new purchases may play a role in these predictions. About 70 percent of all new phones purchased in EU5 countries in 2012 were smartphones, with the U.K. outpacing this averaged score at 82 percent.

In a separate trend report, comScore found that Americans are also increasingly purchasing advanced mobile devices for personal use. Data for November 2012 through January 2013 place mobile penetration in the the United States at 55 percent, lagging only slightly behind the EU5. Signs point to adoption continuing through the year as well, as ownership was up 7 percent in January from October alone.

As for the most popular tech companies among U.S. mobile device users, Apple ranked highest, with 37.8 percent of subscribers choosing iPhones. Samsung, which produces a range of machines including its Galaxy phone, came in second at 21.4 percent. In addition, Android was found to be the most commonly-used platform, claiming more than 52 percent of the market.

So what does this mean for mobile payments?
In terms of the mobile payments sphere, comScore's studies should serve as major encouragement. As more consumers opt for devices that allow for advanced connectivity, it is likely that they will continue to seek new ways to utilize their purchases. Signs have been pointing to the mobile payments industry growing, including a study from Forrester forecasting that it could be worth $90 billion by 2017, and this must be made possible by the public remaining interested in the latest communication technologies.

Of course, smartphone ownership isn't the only factor in whether users will actually adopt mobile payments. One of the most common concerns that arises for potential participants is security, and this is an issue that merchants and developers will need to address if they wish to reap the benefits of greater penetration. Protecting customers' consumer credit reports by coming up with solutions to prevent identity theft, which can accompany mobile payments use if sensitive information is unsecured, pays off in the end. People with stronger credit are more likely to make major purchases, and a reputation for providing safe transaction options is likely to boost business, both for the producers of apps and businesses that support them.