When mobile industry body MEF made its predictions for 2012 it suggested that there would be some spectacular trials using NFC, but that mobile payments would fail to have a significant commercial impact.

And as the months passed the prediction seemed to be coming true – Visa was planning to use the Olympics as a showcase for NFC mobile payments, Starbucks upgraded its app to allow users to pay with it at the till, and PayPal launched a number of mobile payment trials with US and UK retailers.

Yet in spite of these newsworthy trials, a new survey from eDigitalResearch seems to confirm that consumers still haven’t got on board with mobile payments.

When the survey was run in May this year 33% had never heard of contactless mobile payments, and that number only dropped slightly to 28% when the survey was run again in November.

Furthermore, almost two-thirds of respondents (63%) said they were aware of the technology but hadn’t used it.

Awareness of mobile wallets is even lower – more than half (54%) of respondents have never heard of the technology and 19% had heard of it but never used it.

Part of the problem appears to be a simple lack of access to mobile payment technology.

Just 8% of respondents said they have a mobile wallet or NFC enabled on their smartphone, which is still quite low despite the fact that it has doubled from 4% in May.

And of the 8% who have access to the technology, only half (52%) have actually used it.

Future Use

I’m not a big fan of surveys that ask respondents how they plan to use a technology in the next year, as it’s almost impossible to accurately predict your future behaviour.

Nonetheless, the results do give an interesting view of people’s attitudes to mobile payments.

Among smartphone owners who haven’t used mobile payments, a quarter (24%) said they couldn’t foresee using the technology in the next 12 months, while 17% said they might use mobile payments in the next six months.

And the main barriers to adoption are the usual suspects – smartphone owners either don’t see any benefit to moving away from cash and card payments (72%) or they’re worried about security (51%).

A survey run by VoucherCodes.co.uk in March revealed similar results – the survey of 2,000 British adults found that 60% would avoid mobile payments altogether while 17% were interested but would be worried about the technology working correctly.

Security concerns (36%) were the most common reason for avoiding mobile payments.

And just to underline the point – the same responses cropped up when eDigitalResearch asked all respondents about the perceived limitations of mobile payments.

More than half (53%) cited security concerns, followed by an assumption that the technology is more open to fraud (40%) and technical issues (38%).

The eDigitalResearch report surveyed 2,000 people in total – 1,165 smartphone owners and 835 who don’t own a smartphone.