Micropayments on Mobile: Bull’s-eye for College Students’ HeartsSabrina Tharani |
To students nationwide: I hope you’re just as excited as me! No more must you lug bags of quarters to do your laundry, flatten dollar bills to coax them into vending machines or pay ATM fees to withdraw cash. New technologies can facilitate and encourage use of mobile payments. Soon it will be plausible to use your mobile device to check availability of washer/dryers as well as to pay, tap your PayPass-enabled phone to buy snacks, coffee or books or send friends the money you owe them via text.
As a mobile technology enthusiast, a recent college graduate and the newest member of the Global Insights team, I have quickly learned that this era of small change and inconvenience is coming to an end. I’ve started to wonder about how even the most frustrating experiences on campus could have been mitigated by mobile payments. And not just on campus. It seems just about every other day I am fishing singles out of my wallet – I owe my friends for last night’s cab fare, my sister needs gas money or I am in need of my afternoon candy fix.
But I am not alone in my aspiration to use my mobile phone as a payment method. MasterCard data shows that 18-34 year olds are category leaders in mobile payment usage.
According to the MasterCard Mobile Payments Readiness Index, the youth in America represent a key segment both familiar with and willing to adopt mobile payments. Phones have become an extension of Gen Y’s arms, and something I personally never leave my house without. Walking through almost any campus in the country, you will seldom find a student who isn’t using or holding a mobile phone (not to mention in lecture halls).
The widespread penetration in these micro-environments around the country presents the opportunity to explicitly target an ideal population, as young adults are already utilizing mobile payments more than any other age group. According to market research firm TRU, 91 percent of students already own a mobile phone and 81 percent have a checking account. The transition to mobile payments can alleviate many on-campus hassles that come with small transactions.
Mobile phones now contain the essentials of what we need to transact – even for micropayments. With the advent of applications like PayPass Wallet, identification, payment and personal information can all be stored digitally. Almost half of Americans aged 18-34 use their mobile device to browse the internet to shop and purchase merchandise. Offline, P2P and POS mobile transactions are the new frontier for innovative payments.
I believe m-commerce will undoubtedly be the key to engaging young adults in the transition away from cash and plastic cards, catapulting payments towards mobile. Person-to-person mobile payments make low-value transactions easier and will enhance micropayments globally. This will be especially evident when practices such as text-to-pay or Tap & Go™ are more widely adopted for small purchases. Now I just wish these new innovations had been a naturalized part college life while I was still on campus!