December 12, 2012

The majority of American consumers see smartphone payments replacing cash, checks and cards for most purchases in the future, a recent poll by market research firm Harris Interactive suggests. The poll, conducted last month, found that more than six in ten consumers surveyed thought that smartphone payments would eventually become the preferred payment method for most transactions.

But most of those surveyed also said they believed that the shift towards smartphone payments would happen soon. Only 32% of people polled by Harris thought that smatphone payments would replace card payments in the next five years, and only 26% thought that cash would be replaced by smartphone payments in five years.

[See Related: Moving Forward Mobile Payments]

But a more worrying sign from the survey for supporters of smartphone payments was that few consumers indicated that they were "very" interested in swiping their smartphone for purchases. While 27% of all of those surveyed - and 44% of smartphone owners in the poll - said they were intrigued by the concept, those percentages fell to 8% and 16% when asked if they were "very" interested. Notably, interest from men was 10 percentage points higher (32 vs. 22) than interest from women. Interest from Generation Y and Generation X were also much higher (40% and 34%, respectively) than among Baby Boomers (18%) and Matures (7%).

The biggest concern among those who were not interested in paying with their phones was security. More than half (51%) of those surveyed said they didn't want to store sensitive information on their phone, and 40% said that they don't want to transmit sensitive information to a merchant's mobile device. The survey also a found a general sense of apathy about the shift, with 62% of the smartphone owners in the poll saying they felt indifferent about the change.

Some consumers in the poll said they would be more interested in smartphone payments through a digital wallet that stored everything they now keep in their physical wallet. Among those polled 30% said a digital wallet increase their interest, and 43% of the smartphone owners said the same. But those numbers dropped to 8% and 12%, respectively, wen asked if they'd be "much" more interested.

The Harris Interactive poll was conducted last month online and surveyed 2,383 adult consumers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jonathan Camhi is a graduate of the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism, where he focused on international reporting and interned at the Hindustan Times in Delhi, ...