Study: Consumers Not Ready for Wallet Phones

By February 19, 2010

U.S. consumers are not ready for wallet phones, a study by Kansas State University marketing professor Esther Swilley concludes. Survey respondents said they were hesitant to put sensitive financial information on mobile phones "It was the risk that was involved, and people didn't want to take the risk," Swilley said. Swilley concedes that, even if consumers do not want wallet phones right now, it might be a question of training them towards it. "I think what's going to happen for consumers to accept a wallet phone is that it's going to have to go in stages," Swilley said. "So now we have everybody's telephone number on our phones. Next you will be doing airline tickets and things like that on your phone. Next thing you know, everything in your wallet is going to be on the phone."

You have to train consumers to use the technology. The other part of the problem facing mobile wallets is the lack of a real Near Field Communications (NFC) infrastructure.

Near Field Communications World and SJB Research predict that advancements in NFC devices will drive widespread adoption of mobile payments in 2011, and Juniper predicts that NFC payments will reach $110 billion in 2014.

The implementation of NFC devices could go a lot faster than expected, thanks to Apple’s investigations into implementing the technology in its computers and devices.

But results from the most advanced mobile ecosystem in the world aren’t especially encouraging for the near-future.

Swilley says that the failure of the wallet phone in Japan – the application was moderately successful, but its adoption was nowhere near  expected levels – does not bode well other countries.

"What was interesting is that most cell phone technologies start in Asia," Swilley said. "So they started the wallet phone in Japan, and it didn't catch on there. If it didn't catch on in Japan, it probably won't catch on here, either. If it does, I do think it's going to take a while for Americans to cozy up to the idea."

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