Mobile and wearable payments set to total $95bn in 2018

New research from Juniper Research suggests the global value of mobile and wearable contactless payments is expected to reach $95 billion annually by 2018, up from less than $35 billion generated in 2015.

The analyst group anticipates that devices such as watches and wristbands – such as those provided by Apple – would be in the vanguard of these developments, although it warned the sector would take several years to reach critical mass.

Data is discussed in the research company's 'Contactless Payments: NFC Handsets, Wearables & Payment Cards 2016-2020' study, which argues that the emergence of a range of connected wearables has piqued the interest of NFC stakeholders.

Juniper pointed out that while nearly nine million Apple Watches had been shipped by the end of 2015, these numbers were dwarfed by the total number of NFC-capable iPhones. As a result, it has been concluded that wearables as a whole will not account for over 2% of non-card contactless payments by value in 2018.

The longer term prospects of wearable devices pre-loaded with credit, such as Barclaycard's bPay range, were questioned. Juniper said that devices such as these represented a greater security risk than those linked to credit or debit cards, which are protected by a secure element.

Barclaycard sees its range of devices as part of a wider mix of the payment technology mix, helping to provide customers with options when it comes to deciding how they make a purchase. "It's all about the consumer and they will choose what's best for them," Barclaycard's director of innovation and strategic initiatives, James McDonald, explained to this publication, in February.

Head of research at Juniper and the co-author of the report, Nitin Bhas, said: "Most operator-led pilots and commercial ventures have now closed down.

"Apple's entry into NFC gave the industry a much needed boost, and could well be seen as the tipping point for the technology, but at the same time it sounded the death knell for the mobile operator projects."

The report suggested that several vendors are now following in the footsteps of Apple and embedding secure elements within the smartphone, but it argued that this approach further weakened the contactless prospects for mobile network operators, "which were effectively being cut out of the value chain".

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Juniper Research