With more smartphone users using their mobile devices for shopping, a 20% increase according to the 2014 Mobile Payments State of the Industry Report from Mobile Payments Today, it only seems natural that mobile payments adoption would be increasing as well.

Not so fast, says this article from Fox Small Business Center, who cites the survey’s dismal findings. Only 25% of people surveyed used mobile payments in a bricks-and-mortar store. What’s more? A CMB Consumer Pulse survey found that only 50% of smartphone users knew about mobile payments at all, according to Business News Daily. They cite an overwhelming proliferation of choices and technologies (all with their own failures), security concerns and lack of consumer incentives, as just a few of the top reasons why mobile payments hasn’t really caught on.

Are they right? Quite possibly. The mobile payments industry is wrought with difficulties and challenges, despite the earnest interest in advancing technologies. Choices like Coin, Lemon Wallet, Google and even Apple’s recent announcement all cover different areas, and the efforts are really disparate.

But adopting a mobile payments solution is smart for merchants. Accepting payments on a smartphone or tablet gives you ultimate portability. Customers are relieved to find cashiers off-the-beaten-path (aka the everlasting line at the traditional POS), and they’re willing to pay that way. And, if you have a solution that can support omni-channel payments, you can pick and choose whichever payment channels you wish to offer and access reporting from a single terminal. Mobile payments are completely safe and secure, but that reality is hard for some to accept without a little assistance.

Luckily, there’s social media. Now understood to be one of the best and most reliable avenues for getting important customer feedback, social media is helping spur on the adoption of mobile payments.

An article by Michael Essany from explores how this is happening. Social media enables merchants to really get an honest perspective on mobile payments solutions that work, as users praise and criticize their solutions. Their experiences, now documented and spread through quick-paced sharing and retweeting, give business owners a much-needed peek at how mobile payments really work.

Essany had a chance to chat with Mike Randazzo, an independent business and marketing analyst, who stated the following to “Social media has made business owners very vocal about the products they use. This is the best and worst type of promotion the service providers [of mobile payments] will ever experience.” Immediate and totally honest feedback gives merchants a transparent case study. And social media makes this possible by creating an open forum that doesn’t require any spin in order to share.

[pullquote]    Social media enables merchants to really get an honest perspective on mobile payments solutions that work[/pullquote]

Even more interesting is the direct combination of social media and mobile payments applications – and the potential they have in regard to big data. Mobile payments apps have started to integrate social media. Just take a look at my recent post, “Social Media and Mobile Wallets Join Forces” here on Bad Rhino Rumblings. Wallet-like apps like Venmo and Chirpify, among others, are really blurring the lines.

But it’s Starbucks’ ever-popular mobile payments app that’s really getting the bulk of the recent buzz. The company just switched things around in their executive structure to center on payments and payments-related technologies (see this article from Payments Source for more on the announcement). Additionally, Business Insider reports that Starbucks made over $1 billion in 2013 through transactions via mobile alone – which, according to the source, means it made up 4% of all mobile payments traffic in the United States. So the app is hopping.

In apps like Starbucks’, social media platforms have the opportunity to really ramp up the relationship with mobile payments. “Twitter, Facebook and other social networks are under pressure to monetize that social engagement, more of which is occurring on the go,” states Business Insider reporter Diane Mermigas, in the article “Social Will Move Mobile Payments to the Next Level.” And this is good for mobile payments adoption because the more these platforms hop on board, the more merchants are likely to see how the two can be linked for powerful customer engagement.

The integration of social media and mobile payments also means direct opportunities for feedback via instant sharing, liking and commenting. It opens the door for tracking, advertising and marketing potential through the joint efforts of mobile payments platforms and social media channels. And this type of feedback is actually part of another big buzzword: big data. Leveraging data captured from social media conversations and mobile payments actions can provide critical insights for businesses and the mobile payments companies that need to get businesses to adopt them. Who’s your audience? What’s their behavior on mobile payments? What are they tweeting? Questions like these can offer truly valuable information.

With honest case studies, transparent reviews and big data all up for grabs, a merchant needs to look no further than #mobilepayments to see the latest buzz. Reluctant merchants can feel more secure choosing to implement a mobile payments solution, backed by the boisterous cries of both fans and foes. Mobile payments companies can leverage big data findings from social media to help understand their users and craft their products. And with mobile transactions set to increase 62% this year alone, it’s time for everyone to get on board.


Photo credit: Flickr user Garrett Heath