Mobile Wallet: It’s not about the Payments

Since 2011 the team here at Marketing Sciences have been monitoring consumer sentiment towards digital wallets. In this year’s study we also look at features that drive appeal, concerns that could hinder take up – and which brands the UK consumer would trust as providers.

Now usually referred to as mobile wallets, as a PIN protected app on your smartphone they will hold digitised versions of your loyalty cards, vouchers, payment cards and travel card. Further into the future some might even hold your building access cards and ID card(s), although I think Passport Control will still prefer to see the original for a few years yet.

So, as an overall concept, does it have appeal? The answer is a resounding yes – and that appeal is broader than you might imagine.

We found that 66% would be ‘open to using mobile wallet’ on their phone. As you would expect this varied by age, with the sweet spot amongst 25-44 year olds (75% interest) – due to a likely combination of tech confidence allied to a desire to shop more smartly as they start earning and spending more; both for themselves and their family.

Interestingly we also found that 50% of the 65+ year old smartphone owners we surveyed also expressed openness to the mobile wallet concept. This is encouraging for a technology service and should serve as another reminder that older consumers should no longer be stereotyped or ignored as a legitimate customer group when it comes to mobile or digital services.

Openness to using specific mobile wallet services

Contrary to what some might think, interest is not being driven by mobile payments but by the lure of digitised loyalty cards and vouchers. Consumers can easily imagine the benefit of freeing up space in the purse or wallet by leaving all those loyalty cards and paper vouchers at home.
The loyalty card feature is also appealing because there is little or no perceived risk from using mobile wallet in this way – it’s ‘win win’. And these two features have the best chance of helping mobile wallet with crossing the chasm from niche to mainstream as they appeal to a much wider group than mobile payments.

Mobile Wallet blog chart


Mobile Wallet is coming…

It will not necessarily be about who is first to launch a full wallet service, but who can do it in a simple and easy way, ideally giving users control over payment limits, and with reassuringly visible (but not complex) security. And for tech brands – with clear backing from a finance brand.

It goes without saying that no provider will gain traction without support from the retailers, and although the NFC payment technology should work with existing contactless payment readers these still need to be rolled out more widely.

However, as important as being able to use mobile wallet in store will be its promotion by confident, informed staff (not always the case now) and positive word of mouth – that old fashioned human element.

It will be very interesting to see how the myriad providers slug it out in the coming wallet wars of 2014 and ‘15. As well as the financial institutions, we will be keeping a close eye on developments from WEVE and the networks, Google Wallet’s next iteration (and UK launch) and of course Apple, when they enter the fray with a full offer.

So, tell me – who’s your money on?

Please email to request the full report including coverage of mobile payments, barriers to adoption and who UK consumers would trust as a provider brand.

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Richard Snoxell
01962 842211
Article date - 17/07/2014
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