Digital wallets continued to gain prominence in smartphones and laptops across the globe and dominated the discussion of new ways to pay, with the topic now topping 75 percent of conversations tracked in the 2017 edition of the Mastercard (No. 7 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list) Digital Payments Study.
At the same time, consumers are showing an increased interest in the application of new technologies to make shopping faster, easier and more secure. The topic of virtual reality generated the most positive sentiment as shoppers imagine completing a purchase with the simple nod of their head.
Now in its fifth year, the study, developed in partnership with PRIME Research and Synthesio, analyzed more than 3.5 million conversations from the past year across several social media channels, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Weibo.
"Technology is making the promise and the potential of a less-cash life a reality for more people every day," said Marcy Cohen, vice president of digital communications at Mastercard. "This year's study notes a change in the level of interest for new ways to shop and pay that only a few years ago would have seemed farfetched."
Embracing Emerging Technologies
The increased acceptance of digital wallets in-store, online and in-app generated more than 2 million mentions, with 84 percent of them taking place on Twitter. Beyond the payment, consumers looked forward to additional functionality like storing loyalty cards and supporting closed-loop public transportation systems.
The activation of newer technologies like artificial intelligence and smart home assistants was the second most discussed payment topic throughout 2016. These new ways to pay generated particularly strong consumer interest in the fourth quarter, as people discussed how they might shop with newer, smarter devices.
- On the Go – Wearables was the leader among emerging technology topics, driven by partnership announcements from technology developers and payment providers. In the Asia Pacific region, consumers shared rumors of mobile wallet integration with wearables.
- At Your Service – Smart assistants, virtual reality and artificial intelligence also emerged as new payment technology interests. Consumers across North America showed an increased interest throughout the year in the simplicity of sending and receiving mobile payments with one comment to a smart assistant.
- Connecting Your Devices: The Internet of Things was a hot topic with the majority of conversations taking place in North America (44%) and Europe (34%). Discussion centered on the Internet of Things becoming the Internet of Payments where payments could be enabled in any connected device.
Peace of Mind Today and Tomorrow
In their conversations, people continually noted that the success of new technologies and new ways to pay will be dependent on the security and protections delivered beyond what's available today. Nearly half of consumers (43 percent) expressed interest in biometrics and other forms of authentication to deliver enhanced security, reduce fraud and move beyond traditional passwords.
- At Your Fingertips – New developments in facial recognition and fingerprint and touch authentication drove over half of biometric/authentication conversations (51 percent). The social buzz around these new biometric and authentication technologies was overwhelmingly positive.
- Say Cheese – Facial recognition conversations focused on the Mastercard Identity Check Mobile app, Google's Hands Free app and a Snapchat patent to incorporate a payments platform with real time services.
- Ditch Your Password: Consumers complained about entering, forgetting and resetting passwords and expressed interested in getting rid of passwords altogether with easier, improved authentication.
About the Study
*Mastercard, in partnership with PRIME Research, conducted its fifth annual Digital Payments Study, designed to identify expanding conversations on new ways to pay. Mining more than 3.5 million social media posts via Synthesio over the past year across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Forums, Google+, YouTube, Vkontakte and Weibo and covering 188 markets across the globe.
The resulting report reflects insights into new mobile payments product and category trends across regions and countries.