The State of Mobile Wallets: Deciphering the Reality From the Hype

Sep 08, 2017

Mobile wallets

Despite the multitude of providers emerging in the fast-changing mobile payments space, consumers, for the most part, have been slow to adapt to using digital wallets for point-of-sale transactions. For the inside scoop on facts surrounding mobile wallet use – and how changes in the industry may impact you – take a look at these recent findings:

How many of us are using mobile wallets? According to a new consumer trends study from Fiserv, a leading provider of financial services technology, people are making more bill and person-to-person payments from mobile devices while starting to slowly venture into digital wallets (source: Fiserv reports that 13 percent of consumers indicated that they had used a digital wallet in the last 30 days, up from 11 percent in 2015 and 8 percent in 2014. The study also revealed that 15 percent of consumers surveyed had used a digital wallet in the past year. AS Fiserv COO Mark Ernst puts it, “…digital wallets are showing slow but steady growth reminiscent of the early days of online banking.”

Which digital wallets are getting the most use? The answer to this question provides some interesting insight into one of the biggest challenges mobile wallet providers face when it comes to consumer adoption of their technology. Namely, acceptance of the various mobile wallets varies from merchant to merchant, and customers generally don’t know which retailers support which mobile payment platforms.

When examined the use of leading mobile wallets in March 2017, Apple Pay was shown to have the biggest market penetration in terms of consumers who had downloaded the app and used the service at least once at 22 percent. Samsung Pay and Android Pay trailed behind at 15 percent and 10 percent respectively. But as the Motley Fool pointed out, Samsung Pay was leading the pack in usage at 4.5 percent, as compared to 4.0 percent for Apple Pay and 1.1 percent for Android Pay. For purposes of the study, usage meant the percent of people who have the method on their phone, who pay at a terminal where they could use that method and who then actually use it to make a purchase.

Although usage rates from Apple Pay have increased slightly between March 2017 and June 2017, Samsung Pay has a clear advantage. That is, users of Samsung Pay know that it is accepted at virtually every retailer. With a technology referred to as Magnetic Secure Transmission, Samsung Pay enables your phone to emulate an actual physical card swipe. Essentially, retailers don’t have to be participating merchants with NFC-enabled technology to process your payment. If they can accept credit and debit cards, they can take your payment via Samsung Pay. But of course, you will need a mobile device from Samsung.

How are mobile payment platforms improving their consumer appeal? Among the insights gleaned from the study was the need to add new features that will get consumers and merchants excited about using digital wallets. And as various industry experts point out, this may come down to providers developing and/or enhancing robust loyalty and rewards programs like those already being used by retailers that offer their customers proprietary mobile payment apps. By focusing on convenience as well as added perks for users of their apps, businesses like Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and Domino’s Pizza benefit from enhanced brand awareness, an effective direct marketing channel, greater customer engagement, and increased sales. Ultimately, however, as Business Insider asserts, growth of these retailer- based mobile wallets will likely slow, as they face increased competition from universal mobile wallets that add effective loyalty programs to their offerings.

Are you among the many consumers who have yet to explore the added convenience of using a mobile wallet service such as Apple Pay, Android Pay or Samsung Pay? Remember that as a member of SF Police Credit Union, you can upload a digital version of your SFPCU credit card on your compatible smartphone or tablet for quicker checkout processes and greater security whether you’re shopping in stores or online. Find details at

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