Reflecting recent research that concludes mobile payment adoption remains low, Total System Services Inc. (TSYS) issued results from a survey that confirm consumers prefer banking applications other than payments for their mobile devices.
While reinforcing the dominance of debit and credit cards as payment mechanisms, the TSYS 2013 Consumer Payment Choice Study revealed that mobile devices are used as a tool for ancillary financial services, such as checking account balances and accessing discounts and rewards.
"For now, the hype largely remains hope for mobile from a payments standpoint," the survey said. "On a relative basis, consumers would overwhelmingly prefer to have the ability to use their smartphone to monitor transaction activity or prevent fraud versus using their mobile phone as a form factor in a transaction."
Columbus, Georgia-based processor TSYS found in its third annual survey that, out of 1,000 consumers surveyed online in the summer of 2013, 40 percent of respondents were interested in using mobile devices to instantly stop illegitimate transactions. Additionally, 37 percent indicated that the ability to view in real-time the transactions made with debit and credit cards was also an important feature.
Receiving instant offers and promotions from stores being visited (33 percent); temporarily blocking and unblocking purchases using certain bankcards (29 percent); and paying for purchases using reward/loyalty points (28 percent) rounded out the top payment-related uses for smartphones.
At the bottom of the scale was to pay for purchases with mobile wallets (25 percent) and to use credit or debit card-funded prepaid accounts for the same purpose (22 percent). "Industry observers regard mobile payments as an assumed eventuality," TSYS stated. "Our survey results indicate that consumers are presently more interested in increased non-payment functionality on their mobile device."
But the processor remains optimistic about the promise of mobile payments. "We believe that as the infrastructure matures and the ability to use mobile payments becomes more widespread, this trend will change," TSYS said.
Consumer payment preferences in 2013 remain relatively unchanged from previous years, according to TSYS. Debit still trumps credit as the preferred payment instrument overall, with both methods being favored by every eight of 10 survey respondents. Debit is still the clear winner when it comes to supermarket shopping and gas purchasing, while credit is preferred when dining out and shopping in department stores. But when it comes to fast food cravings, cash is still king.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, and also consistent with TSYS' 2012 report, only 11 percent of respondents said being able to set up text message alerts for account balances and transactions was most valuable, and a mere 6 percent valued the ability to register payment cards in mobile wallets. However, credit tops debit for online purchases, TSYS said. Further of note is that PayPal Inc.'s digital wallet service rivals debit online, with both payment methods favored by roughly one-fifth of respondents. But for small-dollar purchases, like coffee and donuts, cash remains the preferred payment vehicle. Prepaid undermarketed? In addressing the role of prepaid cards in the payment mix, TSYS expressed surprise that prepaid cards are apparently not being marketed aggressively by financial institutions. The processor noted that major banks jumped into the prepaid card industry in 2012 to offer general-purpose reloadable (GPR) prepaid cards as checking account alternatives.
But TSYS found that just over 10 percent of survey respondents indicated they had received GPR card offers from their banks. TSYS attributed that low percentage to the fact that the survey respondents were by default credit and debit card users, while GPR cards are primarily targeted to individuals without access to credit or debit cards.
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