Shopper checking out with mobile payments

There’s no doubt that mobile payments are generating plenty of hype among the tech community, but how long will it be until they go mainstream?

65 percent of experts surveyed by the Pew Research Center agreed with a statement that said mobile payments would take off by 2020, according a new report released today, “The future of money: Smartphone swiping in the digital age.” 33 percent of experts agreed with a more negative statement, which said that consumers wouldn’t trust mobile payments to replace cash and credit cards by 2020.

It’s worth noting that those surveyed only had two scenarios to choose from, so there’s additional complexity to consider from the experts. Most of those who said mobile payments will take off, for example, also said that cash and credit cards won’t disappear entirely. Consumers hoping for anonymity, or those simply refuse to change, will likely stick with current methods. But among young and well-off consumers, the convenience of mobile payments will make it the ideal choice.

“For many of these experts, ‘mobile money’ represents more than just existing processes adapted to a new, more portable form factor,” Janna Anderson, director of Elon’s Imagining the Internet Center and a co-author of the study, said in a statement today. “They see this as an opportunity to implement security measures that are lacking in our current financial systems, to offer consumers more control over their spending, and to even reinvent the way we think about the concept of ‘money’. Top people from Microsoft, Nokia and Netflix were among the many who said it is up to those who control transaction systems to set the timetable for adoption.”

Most experts also agreed that, even if mobile payments take off by 2020, it will still be in a transition period that time. Paying by phone isn’t a foreign concept in African and Asian countries, so we’ll likely see those areas continue to innovate with mobile payments before the U.S. and other countries. Some experts also expressed concern that entrenched payment companies would delay the rollout of mobile payments in the U.S.

“When credit cards arrived, checks did not disappear, and neither did money,” said Amber Case, CEO of Geoloqi. “Although in some places  either cash or cards are accepted, there are three main methods of payment. If another  method of payment is added, we will likely have four methods of payment and retailers and  businesses must accept another form of payment. Some systems may emerge that use  completely smart payments, but there will still be other forms of payment available.”

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