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7 reasons mobile payments still aren't mainstream

James A. Martin | June 8, 2016
Though mobile payments and wallets are increasingly popular, they're still nowhere near mainstream. A set of experts and finance-industry watchers weigh in on what's holding mobile payments back, as well what will need to happen for the systems to hit the big time.

6. Ingrained behavior is tough to change

Paying with smartphones, smartwatches or other devices simply isn't an ingrained consumer behavior … yet. Changing such behaviors can take years. 

Today, only 31 percent of U.S. mobile payment users always use mobile payments at locations where they are accepted, according to the previously cited Auriemma Consulting Group study. The most common reason? Consumers simply forgot to pay with their mobile devices. "Reaching for the phone instead of the wallet isn't an automatic reflex, even for mobile pay enthusiasts," says Marianne Berry, managing director of the firm's Payment Insights practice.

7. Mobile payment security concerns

Mobile payments may or may not be more secure than other forms of payment, but some consumers at least fear that they aren't and therefore shy away from using smartphones and wearables at cash registers.

All-too-common data breaches at banks, credit card companies, retailers, and others are widely reported in the media, fueling consumer anxieties. Thieves have access to incredibly sophisticated tools to grab consumers' passwords, login credentials, and other personal data, according to Gilde. And despite recent high-profile encryption battles between Apple and the U.S. government, concerns exist among some consumers that smartphones collect too much information about their purchases and other activities.

According to the 2015 Mobile Payment Security Study of more than 900 cybersecurity professionals, the threat is real. Nearly half of survey respondents said mobile payments aren't secure, and 87 percent said the number of mobile payment data breaches will increase in the near future.

However, some cybersecurity professionals still choose to use mobile payments, according to John Pironti, risk advisor for ISACA, the group that organized the survey. "This shows that fear of identity theft or a data breach is not slowing down adoption — and it shouldn't — as long as risk is properly managed and effective and appropriate security features are in place," Pironti told


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