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UK mobile payments to hit more than £1.2bn a week by 2020

Brits are spending more using their mobile phones, reveals Visa Europe research

The value of payments using mobile phones is expected to hit £1.2bn a week by 2020, tripling the current mobile payment spend, as businesses increasingly offer it as an option.

The average UK consumer will spend £27 a week using a mobile by 2020, £10 more than today, while a quarter will spend more than £50, according to research from Visa Europe.

The study revealed that people are increasingly buying higher value goods using mobiles, with almost a quarter using a mobile phone to pay for electronic goods and 22% to buy clothes.

There is growing confidence in mobile payments among shoppers, with some 43% saying they would be interested in using a mobile wallet service and 47% interested in using their smartphone to make everyday contactless payments.

Visa Europe executive director for mobile, Jeremy Nicholds, said the figures appear conservative. “The actual adoption rate will be much higher. This is particularly true when you look at the growth in contactless use, which saw European use grow by two times and spend grow by three times over the past 12 months,” he said.

“The environmental conditions are already in place to meet the demands and expectations for digital payments. It’s no longer a question of if consumers will embrace this new way to pay, it’s when – and for us the next 12 months are when mobile payments become mainstream.”

But there are concerns around a lack of understanding. A third of respondents said they don’t know enough about mobile payments, which has resulted in apprehension about issues like privacy, fraud and security.

“When it comes to money, concerns over control and security are understandable, though a simple lack of knowledge is often an underlying cause, and consumers are quick to see the benefits of convenience. We’ve seen this with contactless card adoption – once people learn about the technology, see others using it and get used to paying with it, usage soars,” said Nicholds.

The sector is moving fast as businesses try to make it easier and more secure for consumers to buy for things using their smartphones. In China, e-commerce giant Alibaba plans to roll out an app that will allow shoppers to use selfies as authentication when using a mobile to make payments. 

Other research from Visa Europe showed that 75% of those aged between 16 and 24 – or Generation Z – said they would have no problem using biometric security, with 69% expecting it to be faster and easier than a password or a PIN.

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