Italians Show Enthusiasm for Mobile Payments

A mobile payments pilot project, conducted by ISPO on behalf Italian payments processor SIA, found that 94% of Italians who tried mobile payments responded positively to the experience.

The findings of the survey were presented at the SIA Expo 2013, the annual event dedicated to digital money and innovation, in Milan.

The research, involving a select group of testers and merchants who participated in the pilot projects, found that 91% of testers used mobile phones to make between four and 10 payments per month, with 76% of purchases for amounts under €25. Seventy-one per cent used mobile phones at supermarkets or shopping malls, 44% in restaurants and 29% at bars, newsstands and tobacconists.

Among the most appreciated features of mobile payments were speed (59%), practicality/convenience (47%) and the elimination of cash and cards (21%). Eighty-eight per cent hope for the extension of mobile payments to public transport, 76% to personal documents (such as tax code/health insurance card) and to replace company badges and 73% to loyalty cards and discount vouchers

However, the research also highlighted inefficiencies, such as merchants’ limited training and familiarity with mobile payments (56%), technical problems (32%) and the poor distribution of contactless point of sale POS terminals (29%)

The study also looked at the experience of merchants identifying, based on customer traffic and size of the POS, three different types of response:

  1. Dissatisfied but forward-looking: these being in large chains not yet very happy with the spread of the technology but which see mobile payment as an interesting future business opportunity.
  2. Dissatisfied: typically small organisations with few users, which do not yet consider mobile payment to be an interesting technology.
  3. Satisfied: also small organisations but with a good number of users, which see mobile payment as a way to satisfy their clientele and win their loyalty.

SIA reported that merchants identify three clear advantages in the new mobile payment technology. All feel that the merits of payments via mobile phone are for the most part related to consumer experience (convenience and speed as key factors), while the large organisations demonstrate that they have a wider vision which also includes the POS (security, the primary feature of virtual money compared to cash).

Near field communication (NFC) technology can therefore certainly have benefits for both the clientele and the POS. However, merchants also cited disadvantages such as poor distribution of the technology among customers, the general resistance of Italians to new technologies and the presumed difficulty of use for some classes of customers.

“The results of the experiments over the past year with various banks and telcos confirm that mobile payments arouse great interest and can change behavior and habits,” said Massimo Arrighetti, chief executive officer (CEO) of SIA.

“The gradual process of eliminating cash is underway, also due to the new generations of users, and the mobile phone can certainly make an enormous contribution to the development of new payment methods and other services useful in our daily lives. However, it is necessary to create real situations in which to use them and to promote collaboration among all the players involved.”


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