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Shoppers Embrace Mobile for Everything Except Payments

But consumers do like retailers' mobile wallets

Mobile has become integral to the shopping experience, yet when it comes to transacting—especially in store—US consumers still aren't fully on board.

According to an August 2018 GfK survey, attitudes toward mobile devices have shifted favorably in the past three years. In 2018, 45% of US internet users agree that their mobile device is quickly becoming their most important shopping tool, up from 29% in 2015. More also agreed that mobile social networks were becoming as influential as other information sources (36% vs. 27%). A desire to buy more products via mobile payments had lower levels of interest (28%) but had increased 11 percentage points over 2015.

The most common smartphone activity while shopping is comparing prices (36%) while 30% gather product information and read product reviews. Fewer transact via mobile (26%) and far fewer pay in store with a mobile phone (17%).

We put the number of US proximity mobile payment users at 55.0 million this year, which is 20.2% of the population. That's not far off from GfK's figure, which is based more broadly on internet users. We expect the number of users to increase to 74.9 million by 2022.

While mobile payments have taken off in APAC, driven by China adoption in the US has been sluggish. According to GfK, security concerns are holding some back from adopting mobile payments. More than half (59%) of US internet users were worried about the security of personal information, the same figure as last year and up from 52% in 2015.

US shoppers are also acclimated to using credit and debit cards and retailers have been slow to provide mobile payment options. Currently, Starbucks' payment solution has more users in the US than platforms like Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay. Likewise, Walmart and Target have tapped into the US consumer preference for branded mobile wallets that integrate location, loyalty and offers.

In fact, according to a March 2018 Vibes survey, the top two factors that would encourage US smartphone owners to try a mobile wallet were promotions and offers (30%) and the ability to organize things like coupons and loyalty cards (27%).