Majority of businesses and customers say they know little about new mobile technologies.
Mobile payment systems have the potential to provide significant benefits to business travelers, as well as travel managers. New technologies such as mobile wallets, near-field communication (NFC), along with a proliferation of travel apps, can streamline both the purchase and expensing process for business travelers. But customers’ and businesses’ lack of familiarity with these new tools remains a significant stumbling block for adoption.
In March 2012, travel management service provider Airplus International and the nonprofit Association for Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) surveyed ACTE’s worldwide corporate members. They found that the majority of respondents, 53%, described themselves as beginners on the subject of mobile payments, with little or no knowledge of how they worked. And while 41% said they had moderate familiarity with mobile payments, only 6% described themselves as highly familiar with the technology.
Adoption of mobile payment systems is still not even on the radar of most business travelers. More than seven in 10 respondents said employees were not using mobile phones as a payment mechanism for travel-related costs. Of those that were using their phone to make payments, the most popular action was paying for restaurant meals (42%), followed by ground transportation (33%), airplane tickets (25%) and then rail tickets (17%).
Security is also a potential impediment to the adoption of mobile payment systems by business travelers. Fully 92% of those polled thought that the security of a plastic corporate payment card was either acceptable or excellent. Respondents’ lack of familiarity with mobile payment systems may have translated into unease regarding security. Almost six in ten respondents said they either didn’t know how safe mobile payments were, or thought they were less secure than traditional plastic cards.
While the adoption of NFC-enabled phones is likely to surge in the next few years, one major stumbling block will be the adoption of readers by vendors. Merchants will probably wait until pressured by consumers to invest in the infrastructure needed to process NFC payments made via mobile devices. Customer demand will certainly rise soon—a February 2012 survey by payment processor Worldpay found that 58% of consumers worldwide were interested in paying for flights in the future using a mobile device.
Photo credit: Smart Mobile Solutions