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Where is the mobile payments industry?

Oct 09, 2013 Dave King

It seems that tech insiders have been predicting the widespread adoption of electronic payments for years. However, these forecasts have yet to come to fruition, causing many to ask why.

A recent article in Business Insider tackled this problem, listing out the four major mobile payment solutions currently in operation and the issues resulting from each.

  1. Carrier billing: In this version of mobile payments, consumers make purchases via text message, which are included as part of their monthly bill. The news source pointed out that this is best used for reaching teenagers and underbanked segments of the population.
  2. Near-field communications (NFC): Using this technology, consumers can simply wave their phone in front of specified point-of-sale devices to buy items. However, Business Insider claims that NFC is "overhyped," as it's not as convenient as companies are claiming.
  3. Apps: Shoppers can download these programs to their smartphones, and then simply pay by scanning a barcode at the register. What's wrong here? Not so much. In fact, the news source explained that these payment apps often reward users with special discounts and offers.
  4. Card readers: These allow mobile devices to swipe physical credit cards."They're very convenient (swiping a credit card is already ingrained consumer behavior) and piggyback on the existing credit card network," Business Insider wrote. "Card reader companies can offer value-added services on top of the payments experience to spur adoption by merchants and consumers."

However, many experts believe that the industry will work out its kinks in due time. The 2014 Mobile Payment State of the Industry from Mobile Payments Today predicted that 60 percent of individuals are now shopping on their mobile device, compared to 41 percent last year. Yet paying with the device in physical stores still has a way to go - only 25 percent said they had used their gadgets to make a purchase in-store.