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Visa is No. 1 consumer choice for mobile wallet: study

Javelin’s “Battle for Control of the Mobile Wallet: Sorting out Players, Technologies and Strategies to Win” report looks at which types of mobile wallets consumers prefer between all of the competing companies. The report also looked at both the current and predicted habits of mobile users when it comes to buying via their devices.

“The growth of the smartphone market, supported by tablet adoption, is pushing consumers toward further readiness for mobile purchasing,” said Mary Monahan, executive vice president and research director of mobile at Javelin Strategy & Research, Pleasanton, CA.

“Currently, in 2012, 51 percent of mobile consumers own a smartphone,” she said. “By 2016, almost 219 million United States adults will own mobile devices, with 72 percent of them toting a smartphone and 40 percent owning a tablet.”

“The types of purchases consumers are making on their mobile phones are changing and demonstrating a growing confidence in the channel. More consumers are buying physical goods via mobile.”

Pick a winner
Javelin rated different mobile wallet services on three factors – innovation, trust and privacy – all of which are critical in gaining consumer adoption.

Fifteen percent of mobile phone owners surveyed said that they would choose Visa as their mobile wallet provider.

PayPal came in as the No. 2 provider with 13 percent of phone owners saying that they would pick the company to power their mobile wallet.

Carriers Verizon and AT&T took the third and fourth spot with nine and eight percent of votes, respectively.

When it comes to financial institutions, Chase and Bank of America each brought in six percent of consumers picking the service. Five percent of consumers said that they would choose Wells Fargo as a mobile wallet provider.

Other top companies include Apple with four percent  and Google with three percent of consumer support.

Only one percent of mobile phone owners in the study said that they would choose Microsoft, Citibank or Facebook as their mobile wallet provider.

Mobile divide
Javelin’s report also took a look at how receptive consumers are to using a mobile wallet based on their device.

For example, 50 percent of iPhone users said that they would be likely to use the technology if it became available in the next 12 months. Forty-eight percent of Windows Phone 7 and 45 percent of Android users responded that they were likely to use the technology if it became available as well.

Amazon’s Kindle Fire ranked as the top tablet with 47 percent of owners likely to use a mobile wallet in the next year. Forty-six percent of Apple’s iPad owners said that they were likely to use a mobile wallet if it became available.

Overall, 42 percent of both groups of smartphone and tablet owners said that they would be interested in using a mobile wallet.

The study also looked at age groups of consumers most interested in using a mobile wallet. Fourteen percent of Generation Y said that they would be extremely likely to use a mobile wallet while six percent of Baby Boomers said the same.

Different solutions
Between services including QR codes, mobile point-of-sale and near-field communication, there is still doubt from both marketers and consumers on which method will win as the preferred choice for a mobile wallet.

According to findings from Javelin, mobile payments brought in $363 million in 2011 and represented .01 percent of total point-of-sale purchase volume. By 2015, the company predicts that mobile payments will generate $749 million but still only represent .02 percent of total point-of-sale purchase volume.

On the other hand, contactless payments show a larger opportunity. For instance, 17 percent of all smartphone owners surveyed said that they had made a contactless payment with another 20 percent of consumers interested in the technology, representing 37 percent of total current smartphone owners.

Current mobile owners that have made a contactless payment skew towards younger demographics with 21 percent of consumers in the age brackets 18-24, 25-34 and 35-44 years old responding that they had used a contactless payment. 

Nowadays, mobile bar codes are plastered over practically every marketing medium, showing the opportunity for the technology to be tied with a mobile wallet.

Javelin found that 52 percent of iPhone owners have scanned a mobile bar code in the past 12 months. Twelve percent of iPhone users said that they would be interested in scanning in the future.

Forty-three percent of Android users have interacted with a QR code in the past year with 14 percent interested in using them in the future.

Overall, 30 percent of consumers surveyed by Javelin in the report said that they had used their device to buy something, showing how although the market may be small today there is an increasingly growing group of consumers who are using their devices to make transactions.

“The mobile wallet is about more than just the transaction,” Ms. Monahan said.

“In the U.S. we already have a robust payment method, so mobile payments have to improve upon the existing system and expand capabilities for consumers and merchants,” she said.

“The battle for control of the wallet is in its initial stages, with many players just entering the field, changing alliances and positions rapidly. A successful wallet will have to find a winning proposition for consumers, merchants, mobile network operators and financial institutions.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York