Mobile Marketing Watch this week weighed in on the state of mobile payments, claiming that the smartphone may soon be ready to replace cash and credit cards for transactions at the point of sale. The piece cites Chetan Sharma’s recent report in which more than one-third of respondents claimed mobile payments will be “a breakthrough category in 2013,” then uses fresh data from Prosper Insights & Analytics to try to bolster its claim.
But while that data may be accurate, it does little to prove that mobile payments are on the rise. Mobile Marketing Watch notes that 77.1 percent of respondents used smartphones or tablets to conduct banking activities in January, according to Prosper, and 57.9 percent used their devices for some kind of shopping activity. Meanwhile, only 44.5 percent of respondents paid bills on their mobile gadgets, and the report included no data on mobile purchases at brick-and-mortar stores — downloadable content by far was the most popular type of mobile purchase, with 63.4 percent saying they had performed such transactions. Physical entertainment such as CDs and books — the kind of stuff many of us buy from Amazon — was the second-most popular category, with 32.9 percent saying they had bought such items on their phone.
There’s no question that mobile segments like banking and shopping are picking up steam, as Prosper’s data indicates. And players like Square are driving tremendous adoption of accepting payments on smartphones and tablets. But there’s precious little evidence that consumers are actually beginning to use their phones to buy things at the point of sale, despite Mobile Marketing Watch’s splashy piece. And I don’t expect that to change in any substantial way this year.