New ATMIA report reveals little impact from Mobile payments on Cash use

The ATM Industry Association (ATMIA)  announced the release of a new research paper, “U.S. Mobile Payments: Do They Disrupt Cash?” which examines the impact of mobile payments on the growth of cash.  Despite all the attention it receives, mobile payments still account for only a very small fraction of retail in-store payments.  ATMIA sought to determine what real impact mobile payments are having on the use of cash, and what additional impact can be expected in the future.

Payments industry consulting firm Tremont Capital Group was commissioned to conduct this research, with broad attention not just to the future of cash or mobile, but to all segments of the retail payments ecosystem in the USA.  Mobile payments compete with cash transactions, as well as debit, credit, gift, and prepaid cards.  Therefore, competition within these various electronic form factors is a key consideration.

The paper examines the success of the Starbucks closed-loop solution and that of the Apple Pay open-loop environment.  Although Starbucks boasts a whopping 20% of company-owned, in-store sales through mobile, that number pales in comparison to the transaction value of the 700,000-plus sites that accept Apple Pay.  And other competitors will be launching products later this year.

Mobile payments are catching on to some extent – but very slowly and with a small number of consumers and retailers.  The data referenced above is promising, but still only a tiny fraction of total in-store payments are made using mobile devices.  Over the next five years, to the extent that mobile payments do take share from other forms of payment, it will be from electronic payments.

Tremont Capital Group concludes that any share shift from cash to mobile between 2015 and 2020 will be negligible.

“The results of Tremont’s new study for ATMIA accord may be viewed in the context of ATMIA’s recent global research on currency in circulation,” commented Mike Lee, CEO of ATMIA. “An analysis of 30 countries during the five year period 2009-2013 showed an average year-on-year increase over this period of cash in circulation of 8.9%, compared to economic growth rates below 3%. In truth, cash use is more robust and mobile payments less stellar in growth than current conventional wisdom might suggest.”

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