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Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

Are Australian shops ready for you to buy using only your phone?

If you think Australia is ready for a mobile world, you might want to rethink things, as a new survey reveals the status of mobile payments in Australia.

One of the most striking things about walking around IFA in Germany is the realisation that a place holding a technology show actually lacks a widely available support for modern payments. At one point in a cab, I even had to physically write my details down for a payment slip, something I’ve never had to do and harked back to the days where card payments were a little more complicated than swipe, chip, or contactless payment.

In Australia, it’s a little easier than that, and pretty much every taxi has an EFTPOS terminal to assist, but apparently our stores might not be that much better, and as the world goes wallet-less — as the world shifts to a state where our mobiles and wearables become the new wallet — a recent report from PayPal may highlight that our regular Aussie attitude of early adoption may not have made its way to mobile payments yet.

This week, one of the biggest mobile payment providers in Australia has launched what it calls the “mCommerce Index”, a set of findings into how ready local businesses are for the upcoming digital wallet that our phones are becoming,

Unfortunately, the news isn’t great for Aussies, because while the “Tap’n’Go” revolution of using debit- and credit cards for contactless payments has taken off, the businesses aren’t quite ready with the same level of attention for paying using mobile phones.

That’s not to say that contactless mobile payment solutions are the problem; if you have a supported bank for either Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay, you’re fine and can use your phone accordingly.

No, the issue is one of buying products while surfing on your mobile phone, such as shopping for clothing or buying groceries while sitting on a train gazing into your phone’s big clear display.

“Australia has one of the highest levels of mobile penetration globally with 80 percent of the Australian population owning a smartphone, so I was surprised to discover the low level of business readiness to accept sales effectively via mobile devices,” said Libby Roy, Managing Director of PayPal Australia.

“The mobile payments landscape is fast-evolving and the Index reveals how habituated Australian consumers have become to mobile shopping with more than a third of us making mobile payments at least once a week – a figure that jumps to 47 percent for the under 35s. So although online businesses may think they don’t need to optimise for mobile now, they will have to if they want to stay competitive in the near future,” she said.


PayPal’s numbers may end up being a little seriously than that, with the 18-34 demographic using their mobile for online shopping at a whopping 85% of those surveyed, essentially making younger Australians so web savvy, the process of online shopping is just as normal as that of brick and mortar.

And this doesn’t touch on the possibility of social commerce, or the idea of shopping via a social platform, something Australians are slowly getting into, with 11 percent of Australian consumers surveyed reporting that they’ve made a purchase via a social media platform in the past six months, while only 7 percent of Australian businesses accept transactions via that of social media.

Unsurprisingly, security is a fairly big barrier for social shopping — that’s what we’re going to call it! — with 59 percent of individuals concerned that their financial information would be linked to their social presence, while nearly a fifth of businesses weren’t all that concerned with this as a problem.

Ultimately, education could be the answer to solving this one, and indeed much of the conversation around that of mobile shopping as a whole.

It’s not hard to see why PayPal would have commissioned this information either: it’s in the business of supplying mobile payment solutions for businesses keen on having a payment presence without necessarily getting its hands wet and building something wholly unique.

But this lack of mobile presence does cite an area where Australian businesses should do their part to improve, because with more people getting online with smartphones and tablets, and these devices becoming the go to way that most of us communicate, not having a responsive and mobile-friendly solution is just crazy.


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