Mobile payments won’t become mainstream in Canada before 2019: IDC

Igor Bonifacic

February 27, 2016 10:00am

The mobile payment revolution is going take longer than expected according the latest report from the International Data Corporation (IDC).

Back in 2014, the multinational research firm forecasted the mobile payments market would reach maturity within three years. Three years later, we’re still waiting for Android Pay to come to Canada, and Apple Pay only works with American Express cards. In fact, it’s fair to say the technology has a long way to go before it becomes mainstream here.

According to a recent Accenture report, now a couple of months old, only 10 percent of Canadians use their smartphone to make mobile payments on a weekly basis. Part of the issue is that only 40 percent of the population knows that their mobile device can be used in such a capacity.

The crux of the issue, particularly here in Canada, is that smartphones won’t make paying for things significantly easier than current debit and credit cards already do.

“The transition to mobile payments will only take place when consumers see that using mobile devices for payments provides them with added value and convenience beyond plastic cards,” says Robert Smythe, an analyst with IDC.

Indeed, in Canada the majority of merchants have point of sales units capable of processing modern chip-and-pin cards, something that’s not the case in the U.S. Moreover, thanks to the major Canadian banks and Interac, Canadian consumers can use technologies like Interac Flash, a form of contactless payment, to complete transactions under $100 with a simple tap of their debit card.

Also not helping the cause are homegrown solutions like SureTap and UGO Wallet that are non-starters. The former, for instance, only works with a small subset of Android and BlackBerry 10 smartphones.

Still, the revolution is coming.

“It will be difficult for mobile payments participants to maintain momentum as there are currently no pressing client demands for mobile payments,” says the company’s report. “Progress will result from ‘push’ initiatives by mobile payment providers and not ‘pull’ demand from consumers, at least initially until loyalty integration is firmly established.”

It’s fair to say we’re already seeing that push happen. Samsung announced this week its mobile payments solution, Samsung Pay, is going to come to Canada later this year. Of course, Apple Pay came to Canada late last year, and it’s likely support for Visa and MasterCard cards will come to the platform in the next couple of months.

  • Brad Fortin

    “The crux of the issue, particularly here in Canada, is that smartphones won’t make paying for things significantly easier than current debit and credit cards already do.”

    I’d say the crux of the issue is that most people still don’t have the right combination of phone, SIM card, carrier, and bank to use one of the few convoluted mobile payment solutions on the market. Once the banks finally let people use Android Pay, Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, etc, I think we’ll see it take off.

    • neo905

      The banks want to give their solutions a head start first though unfortunately. That and dictate better terms than were negotiated with banks in other countries because…well because they can.

    • MBTechno

      That’s the one and only problem. “This mobile wallet with this carrier, but if you choose another carrier, it won’t work, and if you choose another bank, it won’t work.”

    • Vito R.

      The problem is the banks keeping their cards away from the most user friendly solutions.

  • mola2alex

    RBC and almost any Android phone is probably the best solution today

    • Can’t Fix Stupid

      Yep…works with all carriers too…not dependant on having an NFC SIM card as Fido doesn’t have them.

    • P. Raham

      I cannot get RBC mobile payment to work, tried both NFC settings. Using Note 4 on Lollipop. What version of Android are you guys using?

    • Vito R.

      It’s not. Apple Pay on an Apple Watch is the best solution. RBC app takes more time than pulling out your wallet.

  • vn33

    I suspect mobile debit payment may take hold in the market before the mobile credit payment. All debit payment in Canada are through the Interac network, and with their introduction of Interac TSP, this will be their advantage.
    The credit scene is very much dependent on the OS platform and the card issuer (banks) who work with that App.

    • It’s Me

      The credit cards all use the Visa/MasterCard token service. It’s still dependant on the banks reaching agreements with the OEMs. In both cases the token service is there. Negotiations are the tough part in Canada because the banks work as a cartel.

    • neo905

      As I told you they would last year when we discussed this and you thought Apple has some clout to changes things in Canada. Canadian banks will do this on their terms and their time.

    • It’s Me

      And as I mentioned then too, they will get in their own way but sooner or later it will come. I believe someone at the time said the banks would block it in favour of their own solutions. But as I said then, they can’t block it forever if their customers demand it.

    • neo905

      Except you said by the end of 2015 and I said no way. If you had just said eventually then sure. No customers are “demanding” it in 2015 or 2016 to he honest. I still get blank stares from people when I use tap to pay on with my phone.

    • It’s Me

      Did I say that? I don’t recall being specific about dates, but I’ll take your word for it. As for no one demanding it, you have to be living under a rock. Go to the Twitter feed or Facebook page of any major bank and you’ll see customers are demanding it. And some are putting their money behind it by adopting Amex just to use it. Obviously there is demand. But when the cartel says no, there isn’t a lot of choice. But if there was no demand, with total control of the market, the banks would just save themselves the expense and prevent it entirely. Obviously there is demand.

    • neo905

      One, if that is the case and customers are demanding it and the banks are giving them the finger that is only strengthening my argument.

      Two, what’s the point of not giving a date? Of course eventually it will happen. That’s like saying this housing bubble will eventually pop but not giving a time. My point was Apple Pay will happen when the banks damn well please and not a second before. Customers and Apple don’t have the influence you thought and I am being proven correct.

    • It’s Me

      If there is no demand and you claim, why would it eventual happen? That’s not even close to logical. There is no demand for all Canadians to get cancer, using your logic, it’s must happen. It’s inevitable.

      Can’t give a date because the banks hold the cards. Can’t make predictions without knowing their plans and agendas.

    • neo905

      It will eventually happen when the Canadian banks negotiate a better deal. US banks hopped on board like monkeys right away and then the UK banks waited and got a better deal out of Apple. Apple is offering our banks the US deal. Why would they take it when there is a better one out there. They want AT LEAST the UK deal but at this point they want a better one. If this is a game of chicken I will take our banks chances over Apple.

    • It’s Me

      Well, being honest, you have no idea what is being offered to the Canadian banks nor what they are demanding. Obviously with a absolute control our banks can dictate terms but also obvious is that there is demand from their customers which is driving them to work with Apple and the others to bring in a proper mobile payment system instead the clear pile of crap the banks and carriers have foisted so far through their own incompetence.

    • neo905

      The only person who has no idea apparently is you. Believe what you want then and continue to be ignorant.

    • It’s Me

      Believe what? That there is no demand in Canada? That would be incredibly ignorant but I don’t believe that. I believe our banks have screwed up their take on mobile payments. I believe they are a cartel with almost complete control and have the power to demand better terms to bring proper mobile payments here but that they will indeed allow proper mobile payments here because there is obvious demand and they know a proper system is beyond their abilities.

      Other than the clear and obvious fact that there is demand and that demand is forcing the banks to react, I’m not sure what you disagree with me on in all of that.

      It’s coming. While some claimed the banks could keep it out forever they were clearly wrong.

    • There is a demand but I think the demand doesn’t meet the standard to react very quickly.

      To be honest, this is best for us because we all know the early adopters are the test subjects. By the time we get it, it should be polished and mostly kink free.

  • fred

    It’s time the bank cartel let go of the strangle-hold they have on their customers payment options, especially the iPhone users who have been essentially shut out of the mobile payments realm. Once that happens, mobile payments in Canada will take off.

  • Mr Dog

    We need 2 things for mobile payments to take of here and it has nothing to do with convenience:

    1) Google to step up and make an attempt to bring Android Pay here

    2) The banks or Apple to step down take one for their customers by lowering the profit they make.

    Cause at the end of the day Apple Pay & Android Pay are really the only form of mobile pay has a future as of now. They are easy to use, convenient and secure.

  • mxmgodin

    “[…] and it’s likely support for Visa and MasterCard cards will come to the platform in the next couple of months.”

    One can only hope…

  • Best article to sum of mobile payments. Great concept but doesn’t really do much for us in Canada. We have been tapping with most or all cards for quite some time now.

    Phones payments would be awesome but it wouldn’t ruin my day if it didn’t happen

  • kuox

    I don’t see any real incentive to switch to mobile payments, even if android pay/apple pay were fully supported in Canada.

    Tapping a credit card is pretty much as fast and convenient as you can get. Yes, there’s fingerprint authentication when using the card through mobile, but with zero liability for lost or stolen credit cards, I don’t see it as a big advantage. I’m still going to have to carry around a physical card for any potential vendors who don’t have tap to pay, so why not just tap the actual card and forget the mobile middle-man