Canadian consumers are becoming increasingly aware of mobile payments, but remain unlikely to adopt the technology unless they find it easier or more valuable to use than card-based systems, a new survey by consultation firm Accenture PLC has found.

According to the survey’s Canadian results, which Accenture provided to ITBusiness.ca, awareness of mobile payment technology has risen by 15 per cent over the past four years, from 33 per cent in 2012 to 49 per cent today (below).

How Canadians responded to being asked whether they were aware of mobile payment technology. (Courtesy Accenture)
How Canadians responded to being asked whether they were aware of mobile payment technology.
(Courtesy Accenture)

However, only around 11 per cent of respondents took advantage of mobile payment technology during the past year, and few expect that number to rise above 20 per cent between now and 2020 (below).

Canadians' preferred payment methods today versus what they expect to prefer in 2020. (Courtesy Accenture)
Canadians’ preferred payment methods today versus what they expect to prefer in 2020. (Courtesy Accenture)

The reason, Accenture’s researchers noted in the survey’s North American report, is exactly what you’re probably thinking: The majority of consumers choose a digital payment platform based more on habit and convenience than personal preference, and cash and plastic cards already meet their needs.

“The reality too is that merchants have been slow to invest in modern card readers,” they wrote. “Even if people want to pay by smartphone, they often cannot.”

Yet shifting consumer behaviour will require more than simply implementing another digital payment platform, Accenture’s researchers say: It will require the right provider offering the right consumers the right incentive to do so.

For example, the survey revealed that not all service providers are created equal: Only 20 per cent of respondents trust tech startups to handle mobile payments, while traditional card providers were trusted by 71 per cent.

Percentage of Canadians who trust each type of mobile payment services provider. (Courtesy Accenture)
Percentage of Canadians who trust each type of mobile payment services provider. (Courtesy Accenture)

Certain demographics were more likely than others to adopt mobile payment technology as well, with 17 per cent of millennials and 23 per cent of what Accenture called “mass affluents” – consumers with an annual income of $100,000 or more after taxes – using mobile payment technology at least once a week.

This result was consistent with the company’s findings that 47 per cent of mass affluents and 48 per cent of millennials reported being among the first adopters of new technology, versus 35 per cent of Canadians overall.

How often Canadians use their mobile phones as a payment device. (Courtesy Accenture)
How often Canadians use their mobile phones as a payment device. (Courtesy Accenture)

As for how mobile payment solution providers can make the platform more enticing for the majority of consumers, Accenture suggests incorporating a loyalty rewards program, noting that while 67 per cent of Canadian consumers are currently enrolled in a program sponsored by a payment services provider, the majority – 67 per cent, oddly enough – participate less than once a month, representing a significant untapped market.

Accenture conducted the digital payments survey in July, polling 3398 adults in the U.S. and 602 in Canada.

In contrast to the Canadian results, North American awareness of mobile payment technology has risen from 41 per cent in 2012 to 56 per cent this year, with around 16 per cent of respondents taking advantage at least once per week.

You can read the North American report, which Accenture released on Oct. 18, here.

Share on LinkedIn Share with Google+
More Articles