Digital wallets short on change: Just 7% of smartphone owners use the service

April 1, 2016

The introduction of digital wallets has the potential to revolutionise the way that Brits make transactions, but it seems that currently the service is light on consumer cash. New research from Mintel reveals that less than one in eight (12%) smartphone users have signed up to a digital wallet service, and of these about half (7%) actually use the service. Indeed, the majority of consumers express little interest in the technology as more than half (55%) of smartphone owners overall are not signed up and wouldn’t be interested in using the service.

And it seems that the lack of usage is in part due to consumer concerns over the safety of their funds. Three quarters (75%) of smartphone owners say they have concerns about fraudulent transactions if their phone was lost or stolen. What’s more, approaching three in five (57%) say they don’t trust digital wallet providers to store their financial data securely.

Indeed, there is some way to go before digital wallets overtake physical wallets in Brits pockets as the majority (58%) of smartphone owners say they don’t think digital wallets are reliable enough. However, more than one quarter (27%) of smartphone owners say that paying with a phone is more convenient than paying with cash or credit cards.

For those who are interested in using digital wallet services, it seems many could do with a nudge in the right direction. Two in five (40%) consumers who aren’t signed up to a digital wallet service but would be interested in using it say they haven’t got around to signing up to the service, and one in 10 (11%) say they weren’t aware such services existed.

12% of smartphone users have signed up to a digital wallet service

Sara Ballaben, Technology Analyst at Mintel, said:

“With only half of consumers who are signed up to a digital wallet service actually using it, industry players have scope to make digital wallets’ proposition more compelling. The integration of online payments could help boost interest in signing up as well as usage among current users, while the extra level of security that digital wallets would add to mobile transactions could boost mobile shopping – an online activity that people still appear reluctant to do on smartphones. Furthermore, peer-to-peer payments and dedicated initiatives, such as special discounts, promotional offers and rewards or loyalty programmes, could also help attract and retain users.”

Mintel’s latest Digital Trends report finds that the number of consumers shopping online continues to grow, with 85% of Brits shopping online in the three months to December 2015, up from 82% in the three months to June 2015. Despite this, the effectiveness of established online marketing channels may be weakening. Just over half (53%) of Brits who accessed social media in the the three months to December 2015 liked or followed a brand on a social media website, compared to 58% who did so in the three months to June 2015.

What’s more, the number of consumers visiting a brand’s own website has dropped by 7% in the same timeframe. Whilst 50% of consumers visited a brand’s website in the three months to June 2015, this fell to 43% in the three months to December 2015. Mintel research indicates that it is now more likely that consumers will read a product or service review rather than visit a brand’s own website, with 48% of consumers doing this in the three months to December 2015. Furthermore, three in 10 (30%) consumers wrote a product or service review in the same three month period.

“Consumers are increasingly reluctant to trust manufacturers’ claims and rely more and more on other users’ opinions, thus making peer influence central in arriving at a purchasing decision. As customers now influence others’ transactions, brands should take the opportunity to empower their customers to co-create brand value, particularly through user-driven social media content that can reach a much broader audience.” Sara comments.

Finally, Mintel research reveals that emails may be slowly becoming outdated, a trend which is being driven by younger consumers. Young Brits are less likely to use email, with current usage at 91% for those aged 16-34 compared to an average of 95%. Indeed, this age group shows a preference for other forms of social interaction, such as social networks (83%) and instant messaging (79%).

Over the past year, email usage overall has declined 2%, from 97% of Brits in November 2014 to 95% in December 2015.

“Our research suggests that younger consumers might be starting to perceive emails as outdated and instead favour more instant or virtual social interactions. Particularly appealing are social interactions which provide immediate feedback, for example, when the other participant was last online and confirmation that the message has been received.” concludes Sara.

Press review copies of the Digital Trends Spring 2016 report and interviews with Technology Analyst Sara Ballaben are available on request from the press office.

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