The Mobile Payments Series: The UK

This week, we're diving into the mobile payments landscape and seeing what adoption looks like across various countries like China, the US and Germany. Yesterday, we looked at adoption in India. Next up: The UK.

Mobile payment adoption in the UK isn't as widespread as in other countries.

This year, we expect only 7.2 million people in the country will use mobile payments, making up 13.0% of the population.

What's holding back adoption? Primarily, contactless credit cards.

"Paying with a contactless credit card is a mainstream payment option that people have been comfortable using for a long time," said Christopher Bendtsen, senior forecasting analyst at eMarketer. "Consumers feel the trust and ease of contactless cards are all they need, and they just aren’t convinced that mobile payments would give them any added benefit. For example, even though the London Underground accepting virtual wallets, contactless cards are still the preferred option."

According to the recent UK Digital Banking and Payments report, digital payments in the UK have their roots in the physical world, with online card payments still the preferred method of digital payment. "When it comes to proximity mobile payments, physical cards also have the upper hand. Using a smartphone to pay for an in-store purchase has started to see some traction in the UK. However, such a method is up against an established and well-entrenched habit of paying with contactless cards," wrote eMarketer senior analyst Bill Fisher.

Still, there's room for growth. And further growth in the UK may be propelled by uptake of mobile payment services like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay. "Even though they've been around for a while, they're still growth drivers as they continue to push and market their services to users," Bendtsen said.

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