Survey: 79% Not Interested in Mobile Wallets

An online consumer survey from electronics site Retrevo finds that most US mobile users are ignorant of or otherwise not interested in mobile wallets. However, among those interested, iPhone users are quite a bit more enthusiastic than Android users.

This is curious because Google is, so far, is the most visible proponent of mobile payments. And Google Wallet is only available for Android handsets right now. Before I speculate about what's behind the findings, I'll provide a basic overview of the survey data. 

Retrevo found that 79% of respondents were either "not interested in mobile wallets or don’t know what a mobile wallet is." Of the 21% indicating interest, Men were more interested than women (27% vs. 15%) and younger users (18-35) were more interested than those over 50. Among those ignorant or not interested, "nearly half  . . . [said] they wouldn’t trust any of the companies [on the suggested list]." That list included credit card companies and mobile carriers, as well as mobile platform providers such as Google and Apple. 

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For the minority interested in mobile payments, awareness and demand was about 15 points higher among iPhone owners than Android owners. 

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Apple and Google were more trusted than credit card issuers and wireless carriers to manage a mobile payments platform. Apple was much more trusted than any other company on the list. However Android owners don't trust Apple. Indeed, for many savvy mobile users they bought Android as a reaction against Apple and its brand image. 

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Beyond the simple observation, "mobile payments vendors have their work cut out for them," a more interesting question to explore is why Apple beats Android so handily in this survey?

My view of the answer is that Android is still a weak brand and the carrier often overshadows Google and Android among consumers. The "Droid Incredible" is at least as closely associated with Verizon as it is with Google, for example. And the EVO at least as closely associated with Sprint as it is Google. Carriers are generally disliked by their subscribers in the US. This could account for the lack of trust. 

Alternatively, Android handsets have multiple brands associated with them in a way that the iPhone does not. This might create a certain consumer confusion or "dilution" of trust. With the iPhone it's just Apple and the carrier. And of the two the Apple (iPhone) brand is dominant.

Usability will be key to the success of mobile wallets, as will be coverage and breadth of acceptance in the physical world. However, all things being equal, these survey data are an indicator which companies' initiatives might get traction and which ones might not (hint: ISIS).