- Mobile payments are more popular in emerging economies than in developed markets, where they face greater consumer resistance, according to a study by researcher Kantar TNS cited by eMarketer. The only two countries where a majority of people preferred mobile payments to other methods were China (64%) and Mongolia (63%).
- Forty-five percent of internet users in markets classified as "emerging" preferred mobile payments, compared with the 23% average for developed countries. The preference rate was highest in the "emerging Asia" region at 48%. Worldwide, just 39% of respondents preferred the use of mobile payments, according to the survey of internet users in 56 countries.
- A minority of internet users in the U.S., U.K., Canada, France and Germany said they prefer mobile payments, while 54% of Americans explicitly said they don't prefer the method.
Developed economies have invested significant capital over several decades in the infrastructure that makes credit and debit card purchases easy for consumers, while emerging economies can leapfrog those legacy technologies and embrace the latest and greatest mobile tech to go cashless. Mobile payments are most likely to become more popular in Western markets as younger generations who have grown up using smartphones see electronic wallets and financial apps as more convenient than lugging around cash and multiple plastic cards.
At the same time, several factors have stymied adoption of mobile payments in Western markets, including a lack of awareness and concerns about data security. A gap in knowledge of the tech was the primary reason mobile users in Canada, the U.K. and U.S. don't use a mobile wallet, according to a June 2017 survey by Paysafe cited by eMarketer. American mobile consumers said the key obstacles to adoption in the country included "concerns about security and a lack of understanding of [mobile payments'] potential benefits," consulting firm Deloitte found in a November survey.
China is somewhat of an outlier with urban centers that have embraced mobile platforms to replace cash for almost every kind of payment. China has a relatively low rate of credit card adoption, which has given digital services like WeChat Pay an open field to spread quickly. About 78% of smartphone users in China will use proximity mobile payments in 2018, compared with just 25% of smartphone users in the U.S., eMarketer estimates. About 75% of WeChat Pay users rely on cash when it's the only form of payment, according to a June 2017 survey by Tencent Research Institute.