Procurement · 6 March 2018

Mobile payments mark new era as consumers rack up £975m via smart phones

Mobile payments now account for almost a third of all transactions

In-store mobile payments reached £975m in 2017, spending data has revealed, representing an increase of 328 per cent in just one year.

According to new figures from Worldpay, a total of 126m transactions were received by retailers via a smart phone in 2017.

The spending record of £975m represents a year-on-year increase of 328 per cent for mobile payments in Britain.

A third of UK consumers now utilise their smart phone’s payment capabilities, with digital wallets offered by phone manufacturers such as Apple, Google and Samsung growing in popularity among users.

Supermarkets emerged as a key driver for the rise in mobile payments, now accounting for 59 per cent of the total value. Elsewhere, pubs, bars and restaurants represented a 12.5 per cent share of the total spend.

The data confirmed that spending on higher value items was a significant contributor to the milestone. In the second half of 2017, the average spend per transaction increased by 11 per cent.

Most card readers hold a default £30 transaction ceiling, but since May 2017, iPhone users have enjoyed limitless Apple Pay payments at the majority of terminals in the UK. Worldpay highlighted this switch as having an immediate lift on the transaction value of payments.

Specifically, high-end retailers, such as luxury department stores, have experienced a boost in mobile payments. Although only representing 2.9 per cent of the £975m total, its market share has doubled in the last year.

Commenting on the data, James Frost, chief marketing officer at Worldpay said significant behavioural shifts were worth noting.

“Digital wallets are growing in popularity every day, but what’s interesting is the shift in the way people are shopping with their smartphone. No longer just restricted to light bites and post-work pints, mobile contactless payments are becoming increasingly popular for higher-end purchases too, as manufacturers integrate more sophisticated security features into handset designs.”

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A future without plastic?

Further Worldpay research found that half of UK consumers could see mobile payments replacing traditional plastic cards within just five years. This rose to two-thirds among 16 to 20-year olds.

“Contactless cards have paved the way for mobile payment adoption, but there is still work to be done before mobile ‘tap and go’ becomes ubiquitous,” Frost added.

“We know that three-quarters of consumers still prefer plastic when it comes to making a contactless payment, which may stem from our reliance on a physical wallet for other aspects of the checkout process, such as collecting loyalty points, or showing ID.

“But that is all set to change over the next 12 months. The DVLA is set to launch a digital version of the traditional driving license later this year, and with more businesses looking to integrate their loyalty programs with mobile wallets, we can expect the ease of carrying just one device to win out for consumers very soon.”

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and has previously worked as a content editor in local government and the ecommerce industry.

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