The Battle for Mobile Wallet Dominance Continues

Adoption has grown, but the user base remains fractured

Author: Krista Garcia

May 7, 2018

In the US, no mobile wallet has emerged triumphant yet. The user base is split among operating systems and also fragmented across services like PayPal, bank-specific ventures like Chase Pay and retailer solutions like Walmart Pay.

A December 2017 Pymnts.com and InfoScout survey of US mobile device owners who have tried a mobile wallet at least once found that Walmart Pay had the highest share (24.8%), followed by Apple Pay (12.8%), Android Pay (5.3%) and Samsung Pay (5.1%). 

According to a February 2018 Auriemma Consulting Group (ACG) survey, US mobile wallet adoption has grown from 27% in Q1 2016 to 34% in Q1 2018.  Its research showed Apple Pay with a 34% share, followed by Android Pay (31%) and Samsung Pay (22%).

While Samsung Pay had fewer users, they were the most likely to characterize themselves as “very active" mobile pay users, with 30% of respondents identifying themselves that way. By comparison, 9% of Android Pay users and 8% of Apple Pay users described themselves as very active mobile pay users. The average spend bears this out. Samsung Pay users said they had spent $119 using mobile pay in the past week; $18 more than Android Pay users and $45 more Apple Pay users. Among the three platforms, Samsung Pay users were also the most likely to agree (57%) that if they could put everything in a mobile wallet, they wouldn’t need a physical wallet anymore. 

This hypothetical situation isn't likely to come to pass anytime soon. According to February 2018 CivicScience data, only 1% of US internet users considered mobile wallets as their primary payment method.

We forecast the number of US proximity mobile payment users will total 55.0 million in 2018, making up 25.3% of smartphone users. Smartphone users ages 25 to 34 will account for the largest share (44.2%), followed by those 18 to 24 (39.0%). 

Many factors contribute to sluggish penetration rates—the ability to use mobile payments is limited to retailers that offer it—but for those who currently use mobile wallets the biggest hindrance is human in nature. The top problem, cited by 50% in the ACG survey, was cashier unfamiliarity. That figure was up from 38% in Q4 2017.