Have Cards, Will Travel

Mobile payments at register climb, but slowly

Sabrina Karl
Personal Finance Writer
Data whiz and visual storyteller


Smartphones are everywhere, and the number of consumers who pull them out to pay in the checkout lane is also ticking upward – but ever so slowly.

Six years into its tracking of “proximity mobile payments,” or those made at the point of sale in a retail location, the market research firm eMarketer found that, at the end of 2016, less than a fifth of smartphone users (19 percent) had made a mobile payment at the register within the last six months.

In the count are payments made with the big three mobile wallets – Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay – as well as retailer-specific payment apps like those offered by Starbucks, Walmart and CVS.

While eMarketer analysts predict that the share of smartphone users making proximity payments will continue to trend upward for the foreseeable future, the percentage of users is estimated to only creep up, taking until 2021 to surpass 30 percent.

Keeping in mind that the threshold for inclusion in these counts is so minimal, at just one proximity payment in the past six months, it’s clear that mainstream adoption of in-store mobile wallet payments – where consumers are regularly and frequently using the technology en masse – is a long way off.

eMarketer bases its forecasts on analysis of the market presence of major mobile payment players; estimates from other research firms; and consumer smartphone, mobile payment adoption and retail spending trends. Its latest forecasts were released in an Aug. 29 report.

Infographic: Mobile payments climb slowly

See related:In-car pay systems offer truly mobile payments, More infographics


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