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Retailers, Payments Innovators Can Help Bend the Curve Toward Mobile Payments Adoption

Feb 25, 2016 / By Sue MacDonald

You’ve heard the predictions, right? In a couple of years or decades, cash will disappear, and humans will pay with smartphones, mobile wallets and an array of payments-enabled mobile devices and technologies.

But as countries move toward “cashlessness,” a little bit of education might help, wouldn’t it? According to Fortune, 52% of U.S. consumers are hyperaware of mobile payments, but only 18% of them use them. And NFCWorld.com recently pointed out that awareness and usage of Apple Pay are dropping: 15% of iPhone owners used it regularly in late 2015, down from 19% earlier the same year. One expert predicts a “long adoption curve.”

Why? Perhaps customers need a nudge.

Retail stores and websites have long posted signs or logos of the credit cards they accept. Why don’t they do the same for mobile payments?

Wouldn’t it be nice if stores featured highly visible signs announcing: “We Accept Apple Pay” or “Android Pay accepted here” or “Samsung Pay has arrived”?

Wouldn’t it be nice if the greeters at big-box retailers alerted customers that a new payment method is now available at checkout? Or stores used those giant promotional TV screens to host how-to videos about how the new payment methods, technologies, scanners and machinery work at the checkout? Or smartphone users received beacon-supported messages as soon as they enter a store, letting them know their mobile wallet is accepted?

Or if cashiers – instead of watching as you swipe your card only to have it beep when the machine realizes it’s an EMV-chip card and needs to be inserted from below, not swiped from above – would tell customers beforehand that EMV cards are now accepted?

Much of the education about mobile payments, however, tends to be self-taught. Consumers buy a new phone, set up the digital wallet…and then wonder where, when and how to ever use it. Starbucks, of course, is considered the poster child of easy-as-pie mobile payments, but who else?

It will be amazing…if customers can figure out when, where, how

It’s clear that mobile payments are profoundly changing commerce around the world. Payment technologies already are embedded not only in smartphones’ digital wallets but also in key fobs, wristbands, rings, fingernail chips, and fashion accessories – even hints of temporarily embedded tattoos. Even now, innovators are working on technologies that use sound waves to trigger payment technologies, and banks are upgrading ATM machines that recognize customers from biometric iris scans or fingerprints.

The consuming public is interested in mobile payments because of the ease of use (especially if security measures are in place and functional).

But a little bit of education by smartphone makers, retailers and payment technology innovators would go a long way to improve and expand adoption of mobile payments, digital wallets and new payment technologies.

Consider this a message to payment innovators and the retailers/brands/companies that deploy their payment solutions: give consumers a bit of help, a heads-up. Post some signs. Include information in marketing emails or geo-located text messages about payment options and opportunities. Educate retail employees, so they can educate their customers.

A little bit of knowledge goes a long way…especially if it paves the way toward the mobile payments future.

Help the process by sharing examples of new payment technologies roll-outs. Who’s doing it right? What tactics can be used to encourage wider adoption of mobile payments and digital wallets?

Sue

MacDonald

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