Study suggests Canadians aren’t ready to pay with their phones

Not long after Apple Pay was announced, PayPal released a study that said that 45% of Canadians were ready to embrace new forms of payment, such as through wearable devices. This study said that nearly a quarter of Canadians (23%) were already using their phone to pay and looked at how many people would be likely to take the next step and pay with their watch. However, a new study reveals that Canadians are actually among the least interested in mobile payments.

The Edmonton Journal reports that a study carried out by GfK across 17 countries showed Canadians to be apprehensive about mobile payments in general. The number of people paying with their phones more or less matches across both studies. PayPal said 23% of Canadians had paid with their phone in a store, while GfK’s study showed that about 21% of Canadians polled had made a mobile payment in the last six months.

The issue is that this figure is lower than the 16 other countries included in the study and 40% of Canadian respondents called mobile payments ‘clunky.’ Apparently, concerns about security and the fact that current methods of payment aren’t exactly inconvenient means Canadians are more than happy to stick with the status quo.

“The ATM infrastructure is huge and profound in Canada, even when compared with the United States, so the mobile technology itself is partly a solution for a problem that’s not as big of an issue here,” the Edmonton Journal quotes Stephen Popiel, vice-president of consulting for GfK Canada, as saying. “We have a seamless ATM and debit card structure here and now the tap technology makes it fast and easy to make a lot of small purchases,” he continued.

The “clunky” aspect of mobile payments is likely a reference to the fact that we don’t yet have one system to rule them all. Different banks are working with different carriers and credit card companies on multiple different systems. Then you have to factor in the model of smartphone, which isn’t consistent either. Only Scotiabank supports the BlackBerry Q5, for example.

Interestingly, though Canadians aren’t quite ready to tap-to-pay with their phones, an increasing number of people are making purchases online using their phone. Recent figures from Visa report that 26% of people have made online purchases via mobile in the last 90 days. That said, they’re still stunted by the same problems: security and convenience.

When you look at the statistics from Visa’s study, security and convenience factor into people’s online shopping habits and there seems to be a lack of trust among mobile shoppers compared to PC shoppers. While 65% of people shopping on their PC trust their device’s security, that number falls to 55% when you ask those shopping online on their phone. What’s more, of those surveyed 76% said they prefer to shop online on their computer because its easy to make purchases. The same can only be said for 58% of smartphone purchasers.

It’s certainly true that it is often much easier to shop online using a mouse and keyboard. However, the trust issue is far more detrimental to mobile ecommerce because it’s not something that can be remedied with mobile-friendly websites or one-click purchase processes.

It’s likely the users surveyed by Visa are visiting the same websites, entering the same information, and using the same credit card they would on a PC. Yet still the level of trust is lower. Though it’s possible these people are worried about insecure connections, packet sniffing, and an increasing amount of smartphone malware (and good for them if they are), it’s more likely that the general public still doesn’t really understand mobile ecommerce and therefore are less likely to trust it, which is something that will have an effect on the adoption of NFC payments via smartphones.

[source]Edmonton Journal, MobileSyrup 1, 2[/source]