You would think from the proliferation of advertising and press coverage that the mobile wallet market is exploding. RTi put forth awareness and usage tracking in our own study that surveys 1,500 respondents each month. The objectives are to:

  • Understand engagement with mobile devices among the general population
  • Identify the digital/mobile wallet-ready consumers
  • Understand involvement with mobile financial apps and content

If you are asking, What is a mobile wallet?” you are part of a quickly shrinking contingent. A mobile wallet is an electronic device that securely stores credit cards, debit cards, offers, coupons, loyalty points, and so forth. You can send money, shop in stores, and make online purchases. Clearly, the marketing is working: Our study found that over the past seven months, awareness of the digital/mobile wallet has trended up from 46% in March 2013 to 63% in September 2013, with males and those 25-49 years old expressing the highest level of awareness. Google Wallet has, by far, the highest awareness among mobile wallet brands – twice as high as Mastercard Paypass, the closest competitor.

Although awareness of the digital wallet and the brands driving it has been increasing, usage remains very low (roughly 5%). However, among those who have used a mobile wallet, satisfaction is strong, ranging from 78% to 86% depending on the brand. As may be expected, viewing bank account balances is the most prevalent mobile banking activity. Mobile shopping/payment has also stayed consistent and, at about 35%, is a close second in activity. Within this segment, the most common activities are purchasing on a retailer website, using electronic offers/coupons, and making a purchase on a mobile app.

Consumer surveys can help to identify challenges along with opportunities. This nascent market has been very effective in creating consumer awareness and satisfying experiences, but converting the bulk of us to users is the next big hurdle. The brand that can break down this barrier stands to win big. We’ll continue to monitor the market and report regularly. In the meantime, you may want to listen to this NPR “Talk of the Nation” segment: A Mobile Wallet: Cash, Credit … or Cellphone? to see where one market analyst thinks the category is headed.