Mobile payments in the United States - Statistics & Facts

Mobile payments refer to monetary transactions in which consumers make online and in-store purchases, pay bills, and send or receive money with the use of a mobile device. Instead of paying with cash or credit cards, payments can be performed through a barcode, a downloaded app, a web browser, or a text message. With the proliferation of mobile wallet apps in recent years, businesses and individuals alike are adapting to this new form of payment processing.

The mobile payment landscape offers a variety of choices for American consumers. In 2019, 51 percent of U.S. mobile payment users stated that they have used Apple Pay in the past 12 months. Other popular mobile payment brands were Google Pay, Samsung Pay, and Chase Pay.

The technology behind wireless payments and digital wallets offered by these companies is called NFC, which stands for near-field communication. NFC allows devices to exchange data with other NFC-enabled systems. With NFC, consumers can simply pay for products and services by tapping their phone to an NFC-equipped payments reader at the point of purchase. These contactless payments are on the rise and expected to generate close to 190 billion U.S. dollars in transaction value in the United States by 2021 with the number of proximity payment users projected to reach over 60 million before 2020. Apart from NFC, common mobile payment models include premium SMS, direct mobile billing, and web-based payments involving apps.

Security, convenience, and faster transaction times can be incentives for American users to adapt to mobile payment technologies. According to a 2019 survey, 29 percent of Americans would like to pay with their smartphones all the time. The most popular mobile payment scenarios include food and drinks in restaurants and everyday purchases. In another survey conducted during the same year, 19 percent of consumers in the United States reported having paid via smartphone in stores, restaurants or other points of sale. Retailers and SMBs have taken advantage of the situation and increasingly offer mobile payment methods during checkout. As of December 2018, the most common mobile payment methods accepted by North American retailers were Apple Pay, Masterpass by Mastercard and Visa Checkout.

Privacy concerns remain a major barrier to usage of mobile payments. In a 2018 survey, 59 percent of respondents in the U.S. were worried about their personal information when using mobile payments. Opinions on mobile payments' mainstream success and the possibility of replacing traditional paying methods with mobile money also varies among smartphone users. In a February 2018 survey among adults in the United States, 26 percent of Samsung Pay users strongly agreed with the possibility that mobile wallets could replace physical wallets in the coming future, while in comparison only ten percent of Apple Pay users shared this opinion.

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Mobile payment usage in the United States

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Important key figures

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Mobile payment barriers

Mobile payment providers

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