Study: Mobile payments catching on in the UK. Is your city ready?

Wed, 2015-07-29 06:00 -- Doug Peeples

A study from Council Lead Partner MasterCard found that British citizens are gradually warming up to using their mobile phones to pay for goods and services.

Following the launch of mobile payment program Apple Pay at over 250,000 locations throughout the country, the survey indicated that about 25% of respondents said they probably would make a contactless payment (using a phone instead of an actual credit card) at some point in the year, according to a Tech Week Europe article.

While that may not seem to be a staggering number, it represents a trend toward broader acceptance of mobile payment technology. MasterCard is confident enough in growing acceptance of the technology that it plans to do what it can to make contactless payments the most widely accepted type of transaction in the UK – and that every store in the country will accept those payments within five years.

Reservations remain, however…
About a third of the people surveyed said they were still reluctant to make payments by phone that were directly tied to their bank accounts and preferred to have them go through a credit card. Many of those said they believed credit cards offered "added consumer protection." The reservations included stolen or hacked phones, while others said they preferred to wait and see how other users fared before using the technology themselves.

Huw Davies of MasterCard UK and Ireland was quoted as saying, "Mobile payments are still in their infancy, so of course it's natural for consumers to be hesitant." He suggested the network is secure enough that a stolen phone could not be used to make payments and that consumers' phones do not hold any details regarding their cards or banking activities.

Mobile payments aren't entirely new
Mobile payment technology is already used in ways that were unheard of a few years ago. As explained in the Smart Cities Readiness Guide®,  mobile payments are used for city parking and transportation services. It's a simple matter of scanning a parking meter's NFC sticker and downloading or opening a mobile application. Quick and convenient. In many cities in North America, France, the UK and Australia, city parking is a completely digital system that can result in major cost savings.


Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.

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