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Mobile payments speeding past desktop, but still trail cards: report

Mobile transactions will exceed those on desktops and laptops for the first time this year even though mobile will continue to trail cards as customers’ preferred payment method, according to a new report from Juniper Research.

The mobile-research firm said that a projected 88 percent surge in the transaction value of online, mobile and contactless payments to $4.7 trillion by 2019 will be driven by a significant migration from desktop activity to mobile purchases, with card purchases dominating the activity. The report shows that retailers and merchants of all hues continue to embrace mobile as a key medium that not only drives sales on devices but also to bricks-and-mortar stores where the bulk of retail still occurs.

“I expect mobile to pay a more prominent role in payment over time, as it provides some convenience advantages and can boost the shopping experience,” said Nitesh Patel, director of wireless media strategies for Newton, MA-based Strategy Analytics.

“However, any large transformation is unlikely to happen rapidly and shops will need to continue to support cash and payment cards in the near future,” he said.

A spokesman for Juniper Research, which is based in Britain, could not be reached for comment.

The report argued that mobile transactions should be boosted by HCE (Host Card Emulation)-based NFC (Near Field Communications) services.

Global scale

The projected dramatic mobile-transaction increase shows how mobile commerce is a runaway hit for retailers in an overstored, highly competitive environment where price often trumps brand. Mobile commerce conducted on the device is the ultimate convenience for time-strapped consumers, while shifting even more control over the purchase-decision process from retailers.

Forrester Research projected that mobile commerce last year accounted for $20 billion in sales, expecting double-digit growth for the next few years. The majority of that revenue was generated by eBay, Apple, Starbucks and Amazon, as well as retailers such as Macy’s, Walmart and Target.

The shift to mobile and digital is occurring on a global scale.

“As smartphone penetration and tablet adoption continues to rise across the Americas, Asia and Europe – expect more consumers to tap their smartphones and tablets as their go-to research and shopping devices,” said Mark Tack of Chicago-based marketing firm Vibes.

“Also, while there may always be an opportunity for physical goods, expect more consumers to use the cloud, streaming and digital downloads as they become more tech-fluent and savvy.”

Slow adoption
Mr. Patel in October authored Strategy Analytics’ NFC Mobile Payments Forecast Update: 2003-2017. The research firm lowered its outlook for NFC-based mobile payments to reflect the slow pace at which operators are pushing NFC payments service, and the continued slow adoption of contactless payments by retailers.

Strategy Analytics estimates 115 million NFC handset owners will spend just over $48 billion using their NFC phones by 2017, down from an earlier forecast of 158 million and $53 billion.

Mobile’s ability to instantly connect consumers to the world around them is seen as a strength.

“Mobile, at its core is about connecting people,” Mr. Tack said. “With each other, with their favorite brands, sports teams and the world.

“Also, consumers are able to see just how easy mobile can make day-to-day life.”

Final Take

Michael Barris is staff reporter with Mobile Commerce Daily, New York.