Contactless mobile wallet services based on near-field communications (NFC) has taken off in two types of geographies:
- Densely-populated markets in Asia, such as Seoul and Tokyo, which benefit from seeing quick ROIs simply due to the sheer volume of transactions.
- Emerging countries throughout Africa and the Middle East where wired infrastructure is scant, so it makes more sense for carriers to enable subscribers to use their smartphones to buy something at a fruit stand in the middle of nowhere than it does to trench fiber out there.
By contrast, service providers in North America have been much more skittish about launching NFC mobile wallet services. The big question mark has been less around the technology itself and more about how to monetize NFC mobile wallet services.
But there’s another unknown that North American carriers must confront: What’s the actual demand?
Well, according to one consumer survey, it’s not pretty.
Consumer electronics retailer and review site Retrevo recently asked 1,000 smartphone owners in the United States about their appetite for mobile wallet services. Very few of them were very hungry:
- Only 21% of respondents said they would like mobile wallet services.
- Of that group, iPhone owners were more enthusiastic (40%) than Android users (24%).
- About half of all respondents (53%) said they have no interest in mobile wallets while 26% confessed they did not know what NFC or mobile wallet services were.
- Three-quarters (75%) of the respondents over age 50 were not at all interested in mobile wallet services.
- Men were nearly twice as interested in NFC (27%) as women were (15%).