There’s been a lot of talk for a long time about mobile payments.
Generally, however, the discussions focus on the actual paying of something on location using a mobile phone.
Highlighting those discussions are typically mobile wallets and NFC (Near Field Communication), where a consumer taps or waves a phone to execute a payment.
There is no doubt that NFC is coming, with 630 million NFC-enabled phones shipping in three years, according to KPMG. This would be an increase from 44 million NFC phones shipped last year.
I’ve had Google Wallet on my NFC-enabled phone for many months and I can attest that it does work. But NFC being delivered and enabled is not the same as it being used on a grand scale.
It will take some time for NFC-enabled phones to saturate the marketplace as older phones are gradually retired. It’s a lengthy process.
Other innovations in payment options, such as Square and Dwolla, will likely continue while credit card companies and banks look to secure their positions in the mobile world.
And the payment-by-mobile phone is a global phenomenon, with some countries ahead of others.
For example, more than half (52%) of mobile users in China use mobile wallets, while only 12 percent use them in Spain, Germany, Argentina and the U.S. combined, according to an Assurant Solutions study.
But there’s another side of mobile payments with a far larger scope. Mobile payments generally refer to using a mobile phone to pay for things where you are.
The much bigger — and more significant — market involves using a mobile phone to pay for things where you are not.
It is an issue of mobile payments vs. payments while mobile.
One indicator of this was the finding this week that 33 percent of U.S. consumers make payments via mobile devices. The IDC study also found that more consumers buy physical goods compared to digital services from the phones.
It is this end — payments while mobile — where the real money and potential reside.
In three years, $930 billion in mobile payments is projected to be spent, according to KPMG. That’s close to 100 percent a year over the next three years, fueled by the increase in the number of smartphones and tablets.
As more people become comfortable buying from their phones, more purchasing will occur.
As another data point, 23 billion tickets (concerts, etc.) are expected to be delivered to mobile phones within four years, according to Juniper Research. This would be up from four billion delivered last year.
Payments while mobile will affect all products.
The key for marketers is to realize that focusing all their efforts at the end of the transaction by any myriad of point-of-sale strategies and tactics is short-sighted.
The decisions in shopping — and buying — are being made all the time in many places, most of which the product or service seller has little or no control over.
The change in buying (and shopping) is fundamentally behavioral.
Using mobile devices to shop, find and buy pretty much anything is becoming a totally iterative process that can be done anytime, anywhere.
Payments while mobile is about the behavior of the consumer more than the technological intricacies of mobile payments.
Chuck Martin is author of The Third Screen; Marketing to Your Customers in a World Gone Mobile, The Smartphone Handbook, CEO of Mobile Future Institute, Director of the Center for Media Research at MediaPost Communications and ahighly sought-after mobile marketing speaker.