A new Forrester Research report predicts mobile payments in the U.S. will reach $90 billion by 2017, enjoying a compound annual growth rate of 48 percent from the $12.8 billion generated last year. Proximity payments — loosely defined as in-store transactions using NFC, QR codes or other technologies — will be the fastest-growing segment, Forrester predicted, accounting for nearly half of all mobile payments by 2017, while bill payments and peer-to-peer transactions will lag behind.
Forrester’s estimate for 2017 falls in line with some other forecasts, as TechCrunch points out, and that figure doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. But I think there’s still too much heavy lifting to be done for us to see dramatic growth there over the next two years.
Not only must the retail infrastructure be built out, viable business models must be established that reward every player in the value chain — including the end user. And it will take some time for employees and consumers to accept the new models. (I was reminded of that last week when I asked an employee at Home Depot whether he’d ever seen anyone choose the PayPal option at the check-out counter. “I saw someone try it once,” he said, “but nobody here knew how to make it work.”) Proximity payments very well may be the big driver over the next five years, but I’m skeptical they’ll make much of a dent in the near term.