Mobile Phone Ownership Starts Early in LifeChristina Sommer |
The other day I was walking down the street in New York City and noticed a group of about five young boys—in their early teens, if that—sitting together at a cafe. What struck me was that none of them was talking to each other. They were all staring at their mobile phones—iPhones.
I was surprised by how young they were to own mobile phones, much less iPhones. I thought to myself how nice to be “city kids.” Kids who grow up in the City, well at least those on the Upper West Side, tend to grow up a little faster—perhaps because they have affluent parents who can afford to buy more expensive things than the average. So I dismissed the scene as an anomaly.
That evening, curiosity got the best of me and I started to research the average age when people acquire their first mobile phones. The results? According to a recent survey by Verizon Wireless and Parenting.com, the average age at which Americans get their first cell phones is 11.6. According to the Personal Finance Education Group, the average age in the United Kingdom is 8. And it continues to drop every year. Wow! I didn’t get my first mobile phone until well after college.
I started thinking that perhaps banks and payment companies are not engaging young people early enough. We tend to wait until consumers own a credit card or have a job before thinking of them as serious contenders for financial services. But while teens might not produce their own sources of income, they do wield a lot of power over household purchase decisions—especially those they care about: clothes, videogames, food, and even smart phones.
Mobile commerce is becoming a reality right before our eyes. I think the payments industry needs to get in on the action and service this group of consumers—or shall I say influencers? While I don’t have the answer quite yet, I’m willing to bet mobile phones will be part of the equation.
Topics: Payments Strategy