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Mobile payments in the United States - Statistics & Facts

The digitization of payments is one of the most visible changes that the global payments industry has undergone in recent years. As businesses and consumers are gradually shifting away from cash and credit card transactions, digital payment methods are seeing a rapid uptick in usage worldwide. One of the most popular alternatives to traditional payment models is mobile payments - monetary transactions in which consumers make online and in-store purchases, pay bills, and send or receive money with the use of a mobile device. While roughly 440 million users took advantage of these options in 2018, industry experts predict that the global number of mobile contactless payment users will grow to 760 million in 2020.

In the United States, the mobile payment landscape offers a variety of choices for consumers. Thanks to technological advancements for smartphones and tablets, American mobile users can conduct financial transactions via barcodes, apps, web browsers, or text messages. When deciding on a payment method, customers can also choose from a growing number of mobile payment systems and solutions. Some of the most popular mobile payment platforms among U.S. online users include PayPal, Venmo, and Apple Pay, Apple’s mobile payment app that boasted 441 million users worldwide in 2019.

The technology behind wireless payments and digital wallets offered by these companies is called NFC, which stands for near-field communications and allows devices to exchange data with other NFC-enabled systems. With NFC, consumers can pay for products and services by tapping their phone to an NFC-equipped payment reader at the point of purchase. These contactless payments are on the rise and expected to generate over 220 billion U.S. dollars in transaction value in the United States by 2023, with the number of U.S. proximity payment users projected to reach over 70 million before 2021. Apart from NFC, common mobile payment models include premium SMS, mobile billing, and web-based app payments.

In 2019, the United States had a proximity mobile payment usage penetration of 29 percent, as opposed to an 81 percent penetration rate in China. This discrepancy is indicative of the comparatively slow adoption of mobile payment services in countries outside of the Asia-Pacific region. While contactless payment options offer multiple benefits such as convenience, time-efficiency, and flexibility, many U.S. mobile users are still hesitant to pay via smartphone due to safety and privacy concerns. As of mid-2020, cash and debit cards remain the most used payment methods in stores, restaurants, and other points of sales nationwide. With mobile payments becoming increasingly popular among younger generations, however, and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic visibly impacting shopping behavior in the United States, the shift from physical to digital financial systems is being encouraged at an unprecedented pace.

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Mobile payment usage in the United States

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P2P and proximity payments

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