Some of us latch onto an idea and proclaim that this will be the year of (insert new device/feature/updated functionality). So far, 2014 has felt like a flop in terms of new; it feels like the year is shaping up to be “the year of continued adoption of the already existing.”
When the New Year hit, I felt that wearables and mobile payments were poised to explode onto the scene. Every show focused on the latter with more than a few main stages featuring someone wearing a pair of Glass. And yet we are about to enter the dog days of August and Glass is still not widely available and still in Beta testing with its Explorer program; Apple has yet to release anything (new phone, iWallet, or wearable device) and Samsung’s Galaxy Gear adoption has remained timid.
While the “year of the wearable device” has yet to materialize, there is still some hope. A patent for an Apple smart watch was leaked in the past week, raising intrigue on what Tim Cook’s “One more thing…” will be this fall. Banks and third party providers have been releasing more and more solutions for devices, be it the Pebble watch, Glass or the Galaxy Gear line of products. Maybe a more appropriate proclamation was 2014, “The year of laying the foundation for wearables.”
In terms of what this year has really shown us is that mobile banking, once an emerging channel, has continued its climb toward becoming the primary channel in banking. According to the Federal Reserve’s 2014 Study titled, Consumers and Mobile Financial Services 2014, mobile banking usage in the US has hit 51% of smartphone owners and 31% of all mobile phone owners (feature phone and smartphone). That’s approximately 60 MILLION people who are mobile banking in the US. Mobile banking though isn’t the only stat that grew in this past year’s study. Mobile payments saw a rise as well, with 17% of mobile phone owners initiating a mobile payment.
Since the main story line for 2014 so far remains mobile banking adoption, maybe it is time to make the early call for 2015 as the year of mobile payments. Mobile payments are starting to get to a stronger point of awareness, and with a 17% penetration number, we may be tipping in the right direction for payments to explode in the next 12-18 months. Wearables may need to wait a bit longer still…for now it is looking like 2015 will be all about mobile payments.