Most smartphone owners say they’re ready to make payments with their phones

Feb 23, 2012
Finance

Rumor has it that Apple is looking to add near-field communication technology to its next iPhone, allowing customers to use their smartphones to pay at registers in brick-and-mortar stores. And it seems that many smartphone owners are ready to do just that. According to a story from The Verge, 71 percent of smartphone customers are […]

Rumor has it that Apple is looking to add near-field communication technology to its next iPhone, allowing customers to use their smartphones to pay at registers in brick-and-mortar stores. And it seems that many smartphone owners are ready to do just that.

According to a story from The Verge, 71 percent of smartphone customers are willing to use their smartphones to pay for transactions at physical stores, and 29 percent go to their smartphones for information when shopping. The numbers come from the third quarter of 2011, according to Nielsen, which finds that plenty of users rely on their smartphones for all manner of shopping help.

Nielsen’s research also found that users tend to fire up their smartphones to gather information about products, using their phones to comparison-shop and browse the Internet. Meanwhile, 32 percent used their devices to read product reviews, while 24 percent looked for coupons to knock down the price of products.

Twenty-two percent actually purchased the product on their phones in the end.

The number of customers who actually use their smartphones to pay for things at registers is pretty low still – only 9 percent – but that may well have to do with the fact that there aren’t a lot of pay-at-the-register options for smartphone users. Apple’s iPhones pack a few apps like that of Starbucks, which lets users show their phone screens instead of a Starbucks card to pay for drinks, but only a few Android devices currently offer NFC and the potential payments that come along with it.

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Near-field communication tech lets smartphones issue short-range broadcasts to exchange information with other devices. In the case of transactions at cash registers, NFC would allow iPhone owners to wave their phones over a special terminal and instantly transmit all the necessary information to complete the transaction. It’d be the same as swiping your credit card and your loyalty cards, except it’d be a lot closer to instantaneous.

According to rumors, Apple engineers are hard at work bringing NFC technology to the iPhone 5, the announcement for which is expected to come this summer. And if Nielsen’s data is to be believed, it seems iPhone owners are more than ready for Apple to add the technology to its next smartphone. That kind of demand and willingness to adapt will likely factor into Apple’s decisions in making NFC available in its devices.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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