Mobile Payments — What is Taking So Long?

According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), there are more active mobile phones worldwide than people on earth this year. 100 countries have more mobile subscriptions than humans. We count on our mobile devices to listen to our music, watch our movies and TV shows, and navigate us around our cities. However, even during the recent busy holiday shopping season, why were so many of us concerned about using our mobile devices to pay?

It is clear that mobile users’ biggest concern has been security and privacy, particularly with the recent high profile security breaches. The ironic thing is that consumers are comfortable spending with a credit card with 1970s magnetic stripe technology and with their personal information plainly embossed on the front of the card. To make mobile payments more widespread, the biggest hurdle will be to gain the trust of the user that it is safer, easier, and faster.

I am encouraged by the signs that mobile payments will continue to expand and improve. In just one example, when Apple released the iPhone 6 earlier this year, arguably the most talked about new feature was Apple Pay. When a known, well-respected brand like Apple gets involved, it instills a huge sense of confidence in the consumer.

Additionally, more and more merchants are now accepting contactless mobile payments. Consumers want it to work the same way everywhere and every time so as mobile payments become more ubiquitous, this modern method of payment will grow even more rapidly.

Jordan Sternlieb is a leader in West Monroe Partners’ West Coast Banking and Credit Unions Practice and has collaborated on various financial services industry projects with the firm’s Customer Experience and Technology teams.

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