Will 2015 be the year you can head out for a day of shopping without your wallet? If the year shapes up as predicted, we're getting closer but there's still a way to go in Canada.
Mobile Payments Reach "Tipping Point" in 2015
Deloitte's 2015 Canadian Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) Predictions recently named smartphone mobile payments as its top technology trend of 2015.
Deloitte's annual report says the end of 2015 will mark a tipping point for Canadian retailers, banks and telecom companies to adopt near field communication (NFC) technology, which enables consumers to make relatively small payments within seconds with their smartphones.
This is because, according to Deloitte, 2015 will be the first year in which the multiple prerequisites for mainstream adoption - satisfying financial institutions, merchants, consumers and device vendors - have been sufficiently addressed.
Deloitte predicts that about five per cent of the base of 600 million NFC equipped smartphones worldwide will be used to make an in-store NFC payment at least once a month in 2015, compared to less than half a per cent of about 450 million NFC phones in mid-2014.
But Deloitte cautions that in-store mobile payments in the Canadian market are likely to be slower than the US, depending on when various payment services are introduced. Furthermore, a Deloitte/Harris-Decima poll finds 56 per cent of Canadians are not interested in paying with a smartphone. And it remains to be seen if they will change their minds, according to Deloitte.
Retailers to Drive Consumer Adoption of Mobile Payments
Consumer awareness is holding mobile payments back. A December 2014 survey coming out of the US by Wakefield Research for Verifone finds consumers are slow to adopt mobile payments. The survey shows 50% of consumers polled are still unfamiliar with mobile payments, either NFC-activated like Apple Pay, or in the mobile "wallet" model like Google Wallet.
The research also finds those consumers who are enthusiastic about using mobile wallets are limited by the lack of stores accepting mobile payments: 53% want more stores to be mobile payment friendly, including 64% of those under the age of 40. When asked what items would be purchased with mobile payments, a majority said they would use it on small and medium purchases like a coffee or groceries.
Interestingly, Deloitte's report notes that "adoption will be driven by retailers who see benefits to promoting contactless smartphone payments, such as the ability to process transactions and to integrate loyalty programs and special in-store offers seamlessly."
Apple Pay Expected To Head North of the Border
Media reports earlier this year claim that Apple Pay is planning a Canadian launch for "some time" in early 2015. According to reputable Apple-focussed site 9to5Mac, Apple is working with launch partners on advertising and it could officially arrive as soon as March.
Apple first launched the service in the U.S. in October and the company said it now supports cards that make up around 90% of US credit cards by transaction volume. Apple has already announced plans to support over 500 banks in the US.
It's not known which Canadian merchants, banks or credit unions Apple is currently speaking with, or how long the talks have been happening, but it will be interesting to see if Canadians will be ready to embrace the payments service if and when it heads to Canada.