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Are UK consumers rejecting mobile payments?

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Paying by mobile – no one wants to do this... but this isn't what mobile payments is all about
Paying by mobile – no one wants to do this... but this isn't what mobile payments is all about

UK shoppers aren't using mobile to pay – but that may yet change without them even noticing

Despite the hype, research by IDEX Biometrics has revealed that mobile payments are almost as unpopular as cheques. In fact, the payment card is still the number one payment method when it comes to in-store purchases for UK consumers.


Three quarters (75%) of respondents stated that they use cards, including contactless, most often, compared to cash (21%), mobile payments (3%), and cheques (1%).


Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a glimpse of hope for mobile payments on the horizon, with 72% stating they are concerned about the possibility of no longer having access to a physical debit card and needing to rely on mobile payments only.


It seems consumers’ personal attachment to the payment card is virtually unbreakable. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of respondents stated that carrying their debit cards provides a sense of security. It’s not surprising then that 75% say they always take a debit card with them when they leave the house. 65% of those questioned said that they wouldn’t give up their debit card in favour of mobile payments and a further 78% admit to feeling more secure using their debit card in comparison to mobile payments.


A further 60% also stated they would be worried people would have access to their accounts if they lost their mobile phone, amplifying the clear consumer distrust in mobile payments and their personal attachment to payment cards.


“It is evident that the UK public won’t be ditching payment cards in favour of mobile payments in the near, or even distant, future. Banks must face this and innovate with cards, which have stayed largely the same for decades,” says Dave Orme, IDEX Biometrics SVP.


“With a resounding 53% of consumers stating they would trust the use of their fingerprint to authenticate payments more than the traditional PIN, this must be where the UK banking industry focuses its attention. Chip and PIN is now 12 years old, and has seen its course. It is time to elevate the traditional payment card and evolve authentication methods to make contactless transactions even more convenient and secure by adding seamless fingerprint biometric authentication,” concludes Orme.


But does this mean that mobile payments are dead? Not quite. While using the phone as a proxy for a contactless card is somewhat more cumbersome than using just the card, the idea of mobile payments goes way beyond just that.


For starters, users of Apple Pay can use contactless for purchases over £30. They can also protect themselves from fraud using the biometrics on offer from face recognition and fingerprint recognition.


But that is just the start. Payments are changing – and mobile will be the key. What makes cards so popular is that you can just whip it out, tap and pay (under £30). This ease of use has made using a card easier than using cash and that is why cards are winning. If mobile can make payments easier again, then it will become the preferred method.


And phones are. Uber already buries the payment part of the booking process in the booking process itself, thus making ‘payments’ invisible. Soon, the phone will be doing payment wirelessly and without having to be removed from the user’s pocket, or by simply taping a ring or a watch connected to the phone to use the card.


This is already popular in Holland, where Barclaycard have trialled bPay, which does just this. This is true mobile payments. While using the phone instead of a card may not be popular, don’t write off mobile payments just yet.


Image: Fotolia

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