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U.S. could soon see mobile payments boom behind tech improvement

November 11, 2015

For some time now, there has been an expectation among many American experts in the payment processing industry that U.S. consumers would start to use mobile payments technology en masse at some point in the mid-2010s.

For some time now, there has been an expectation among many American experts in the payment processing industry that U.S. consumers would start to use mobile payments technology en masse at some point in the mid-2010s. Some early estimates called for widespread adoption as soon as 2013, but the technology just wasn’t there yet. At this point, though, the technology is in place, and starting to filter out to more people.

This stands in contrast to the slow adoption experienced in Europe despite a more widespread availability of this type of payment for the last few years, yet both sides of the Atlantic are now getting over the issue, according to a report from Computerworld. However, it’s worth noting that some now believe the U.S. market will pull ahead of its European counterpart simply because companies there are more focused on innovating and getting new tech out into the purchasing ecosystem, instead of trying to take the European tack of building the infrastructure first.

Using a mobile phone to make a purchase is likely to become much more common in the very near future.Using a mobile phone to make a purchase is likely to become much more common in the very near future.

Why is this the case?
Europe, and Asia to a similar extent, have made the point of sale device the focus of their mobile payment expansion in recent years, meaning that these systems are nearly ubiquitous for people who want to use them and have the technology to do so, the report said. But the opposite problem exists in the U.S.: More companies are doing a better job of getting mobile payment-equipped devices like smartphones into consumers’ hands, but many retailers have yet to truly adopt payment processing terminals that can actually handle such transactions.

But what’s probably going to pull the U.S. ahead in this regard is the fact that many retailers are now making that step on their own, without the help of mobile payment companies in particular, the report said. This is because larger payment processing entities like Visa and MasterCard now require more secure mobile card readers to be installed, and it’s simply no longer a big leap to go from those terminals to the other. In fact, depending upon which POS devices are involved, many retailers may already have the ability to process payments on a smartphone in the first place.

Getting over it
Indeed, with so many retailers now junking their old payment processing devices, which typically needed a card to be swiped, these newer terminals are both “smarter” and more secure, the report said. In fact Europe and Asia built up the infrastructure for these types of transactions first with an eye toward reducing fraud across all types of card purchases. Now the U.S. is moving to do the same, but unlike other nations, it also has a huge amount of NFC-capable mobile devices in circulation.

All of this should give retailers in general significant impetus to start adopting this type of technology as soon as possible. If consumers are quickly growing accustomed to using mobile payments at a large and increasing number of establishments, those who don’t adopt soon may be left in the dust.

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