It’s projected that there will be more than 6.8 billion individuals using a mobile phone by the end of 2021. A recent report noted that 69 percent of all mobile users in the U.S. had made a mobile payment in 2020. This is up from 14 percent in 2014 and estimations will in the 80 percent range by 2021.
Because of this enormous growth — and potential growth that mobile devices present — we can expect to see the mobile payments industry and startups in the space evolve to meet the growing demands of users.
To understand how big this industry is going to be, we need to understand the history of mobile payments and their evolution over time.
Brief history of mobile payments
Throughout history, human beings have relied on some sort of payment system to purchase the goods or services we wanted or needed. Starting with the bartering system, humans began to use livestock, grain, shells, metal coins, pieces of white deerskin, the wampum, gold, the gold-backed dollar, charge cards, credit cards, the U.S. dollar and, most recently, electronic payments.
If there has been one consistent theme regarding the evolution of payments, it’s that we prefer payments that are convenient and transactional. These preferences began to take shape in the early 20th century with the introduction of the charge card/payment cards.
After the introduction of the Diners Club card in 1950, the credit card industry began to resemble what we’re familiar with today. The BankAmericard, founded in 1958, was the first modern-day credit card issued by a third-party bank. The card became Visa in 1977. Since then, technology has given us the videotex systems of the late-1970s/mid-1980s; online banking and bill pay in 1994; the mobile web payment (WAP) in 1997; and the current wave of mobile payments apps.
With that in mind, here’s a timeline of how electronic payments have advanced into the 21st century:
- 1998: PayPal is founded.
- 1999: Thanks to Ericsson and Telnor Mobil, mobile phones could be used to purchase movie tickets.
- 2003: 95 million cell phone users worldwide made a purchase via their mobile device.
- 2007: Both the iPhone and the Android operating system are released.
- 2009: Bitcoin is invented.
- 2011: Google Wallet is released.
- 2014: Apple Pay is launched, followed a year later by Android and Samsung Pay.
- 2020: 90 percent of smartphone users will have made a mobile payment. It’s estimated that by 2021, there will be $80 billion in mobile payment sales.
The changing mobile payments scene
Mobile payments have been quickly evolving, with more recognizable brands stepping into the industry to advance technology and offer what consumers and businesses want in terms of apps and services that allow them to pay with their phones.
For example, Google’s recently announced Hands Free. It’s a new mobile payment app that uses either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, like most other payment apps — except that this app allows you to keep your phone in your wallet or purse. Google is also tinkering with facial recognition to confirm an individual’s identity.
Meanwhile, major banking institutions, such as JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co. and U.S. Bancorp, have a created a joint venture called clearXchange that allows customers to transfer funds instantly to another bank account through their phones. Besides the experiments going on at Google, some of the latest trends in the mobile payment industry are offering greater convenience, security and a glimpse into the near future.
When it comes to “pay” as a feature, Apple, Android and Samsung are just the tip of the iceberg. More tech companies will continue to roll out their mobile payment platforms. Wearable tech will be next. Don’t think that mobile payments will be limited to your smartphone or tablet.
Perhaps the biggest disrupter may be the technology behind digital currency. Blockchain has been noted as the potential “foundation for building a new generation of transactional applications that establish trust and transparency while streamlining business processes,” which is critical to advancing adoption of mobile payments among consumers and businesses.
Regulations could lead to global standardization. There is no global standard regarding payments, but there is a push (which we strongly support) to create one technology standard that would have the same set of regulations for countries across the world. This could be the real game-changer for propelling payments in general and mobile payments all over the globe.
With companies like Venmo processing more than $1 billion in one month in mobile P2P payments, and the thousands of other companies like Square processing billions more on mobile devices, the fintech industry and mobile payments industry is ripe to becoming one of the next hottest sectors in tech.
There is room for countless unicorns in the space. Before that can happen, many issues will need to be addressed, including the security questions, but the uniform help and speed in which we will be able to carry out transactions continues to show us a compelling movement in the evolution for mobile payments and the trend that by 2021, 90 percent of smartphone users will have made a mobile payment.
We are building a platform to bring Consumers and Merchants Together.
WhitePigeon will build its own blockchain and will tokenise the payment method currently required by consumers as a means to buy commodities from the merchants.
We at WhitePigeon firmly believe that in order for crypto-currencies to become more than merely a speculative asset, it needs to be used by more users and merchants.
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