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Retailers Play Wait-and-See Game With Mobile Payments

March 21st, 2013 ::

By Maria Valdez Haubrich

Has your small business already adopted a mobile payment processing option such as Square? Are you scared about the technology issues mobile payments present? Or are you eagerly waiting to see what kinds of mobile payments your customers demand? If your answer is “all of the above,” you fit right in with the predominant attitudes in the retail industry.

When it comes to mobile payments, it seems the retail industry is stuck in the middle—believing that mobile payments will be key to success in the very near future, but worried about implementation and concerned about choosing a solution that will keep customers happy. In fact, a new report on mobile payments from RSR Research says “uncertainty” about mobile payment technology was a top business challenge for 76 percent of retailers polled.


Overall, retailers are bullish on mobile payments. Even though just 1 percent say that mobile payments are currently the dominant form of payment in their business, almost 1 in 5 (19 percent) believe mobile payments will be their dominant form of payment in three years. The smaller retailers were more likely to believe mobile payment would be important to them. These retailers currently take most of their payments in cash, the use of which they believe will shrink as mobile options grow. (Retailers also think that debit cards will become increasingly important, while credit cards will be less so.)

Where are retailers looking for the mobile payment options of tomorrow? They’re not counting on traditional payment services providers to develop these solutions. Instead, they expect Google, PayPal and other consumer technology companies to take the lead in this arena. In fact, 63 percent say that traditional payment services providers are actually impeding progress toward mobile payments becoming ubiquitous. Many of them also expressed concerns about what types of fees such providers would charge for mobile payments.

Retailers are also following the lead of consumers. Many are waiting to see if rapid consumer adoption of smartphones for browsing and shopping will translate into similar adoption of smartphone payment technologies and “digital wallets.” Retailers are wary of taking a wrong step, and very concerned about the customer experience. More than half (51 percent) say that a consolidated, cross-channel payment processing service is crucial to their adoption.

Overall, the RSR report paints a picture of retailers poised and ready to jump on mobile payments, but hanging back until payment provider options shake out and a clear winner emerges.

Image by Flickr user Ron Bennetts (Creative Commons)

The views expressed here are the author's alone and not those of Network Solutions or its partners.

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