Smartphones have become the right hand man to almost half of all Americans, so it is no wonder that mobile payments are being accepted at more and more retailers, restaurants, and other places of business.
Starbucks started the trend when it created a mobile app that users could download and then use to purchase their various caffeinated beverages. It acts as a prepaid gift card in a sense and all users have to do is show the barista at Starbucks the app and he or she then scans the barcode, which automatically debits the user's prepaid account.
Take a look at the numbers
As of January 2013, more than seven million people were using the mobile payment app at Starbucks and almost 20 percent of all transactions that come through on a Starbucks card are mobile payments.
This success has caused other businesses both in and out of the food and beverage industry to take notice.
According to eMarketer, 43 percent of all Americans use smartphones. That's almost 140 million people. Providing this incredibly large swath of the population with the ability to use their smartphones to make mobile payments is just another way for businesses to cash in on technological advances.
Purses and Wallets to End Up on the Endangered Species List
Mobile payments streamline everything there is about making a purchase.
Acceptance of this form of payment means that there will no longer be lines behind that one customer digging for exact change in a bottomless purse. The exact amount for any purchase will be automatically debited with the scanning of a barcode on the mobile app.
Losing receipts will be a thing of the past as all receipts will be electronically stored and filed in the app so that the purchaser has access to it with the touch of the screen.
Forget your loyalty card? Not a problem. Mobile payment apps store all that information for you.
Don't Leave Home Without Another Form of Payment - Yet
However, mobile payment apps are not accepted everywhere, not by a long shot. It is estimated that in the U.S. only 150,000 retailers accept some form of mobile payment. That's not because people aren't interested; it is because not enough people are interested.
Retailers and other businesses are not going to convert to a mobile app payment system until there is more consumer demand for it. And consumers won't demand it until more retailers accept it. But that doesn't mean there won't come a day when getting a barcode scanned on a smartphone isn't as common as swiping a debit card is today.
Just A Matter of Time
Some experts suggest that the way to get to the point where electronic payments are the norm is to make sure it is as safe as possible. After all, many smartphone users would be in a panic in the event of the smartphone becoming lost or stolen. Then there are those who fear that hacks into the system could result in a depletion of funds from their accounts.
All of these are valid concerns, but many of the risks mobile payment apps pose are the same risks that exist for anyone who shops online.
Knowing that Starbucks accepts this form of payment and is doing well with it suggests that it is only a matter of time before retailers everywhere jump on the bandwagon for a piece of the action. After all, someone's always got to test the waters before everyone else jumps in.