Wallets On The Way Out, Says PayPal

You won’t need your wallet to go shopping on Britain’s high streets in 2016. So says PayPal in a new report entitled Money: The Digital Tipping Point.

The report concludes that 2016 will be the year when UK shoppers will be able to use their mobile phones to pay for things on the high street with digital money rather than cash, cheques or cards.

The findings are based on a commissioned survey conducted by Forrester Consulting on PayPal’s behalf, consisting of interviews with 10 senior executives from major UK retailers and other businesses, representing a combined 2010 turnover of £85bn.

45m Britons use a mobile phone, and 49 per cent of mobile buyers surveyed by Forrester use their mobile to buy products at least once every three months (according to a Forrester  survey commissioned by PayPal, examining the mobile buying habits of 550 current mobile shoppers in the UK).

In the future, PayPal notes, a whole range of devices will be used to make payments direct to the retailer – regardless of whether you’re in store or shopping online. That future is already starting to become reality. In June this year, PizzaExpress launched an iPhone/iPad app that allows diners in the UK to pay their bill at their table via PayPal using their smartphone.

“We’ll see a huge change over the next few years in the way we shop and pay for things,” says PayPal UK managing director, Carl Scheible. “By 2016, you’ll be able to leave your wallet at home and use your mobile as the 21st century digital wallet. Our vision of money is to enable you to pay for something from wherever you are, whatever device you’re on – a PC, mobile phone, tablet, games console and a whole lot more.

“2016 will mark the real start of money’s digital switchover in the UK. We’re not saying cash will disappear entirely, but we’ll increasingly use our phones and other devices rather than our wallets to pay in-store as well as online.”

We asked Keith Brown, managing director at mobile payments firm paythru, for his reaction to the PayPal survey. He told us: “This survey reflects much of what we are seeing across a variety of markets throughout the world. The mobile phone has significant potential to transform the way goods are purchased, and indeed how consumers interact with brands. For these predictions to become a reality, it is critical that mobile payments don’t require any fundamental change in behaviour. Mass market adoption of mobile payments is dependent on people experiencing the same benefits as traditional payments. Hence, it is important to adhere to accepted security standards that exist in card payments. Similarly, people will want guarantees that it is easy to receive refunds in the event that a merchant fails to deliver the goods, or worse goes bankrupt.”