Researchers from the University of Murcia (UMU) have discovered that the use of technologies that lack standardized norms, such as mobile payment, is significantly and hidden from learning costs. Potential users perceive a high cost to learn to use this method, a cost that negatively affects the value they expect from its use and reduces the intention to use it.

There are three characteristics of mobile payment that can explain the low levels of adoption. First, due to the lack of standards and the multitude of platforms and technologies, potential users face great uncertainty. The transition from one technique to another means learning costs for users.

“Our results indicate that the complexity and multitude of technologies and platforms available for mobile payment makes potential users disproportionately concerned about learning costs, reducing their perceptions of value and explaining the low levels of adoption,” explains Carolina López, researcher at the Department of Business Organization and Finance at UMU.

Second, due to the lack of a dominant rule, the conditions to support mobile payment have not yet been fully established. For example, NFC has only recently proliferated in mobile phones, and industry players such as banks and payment service providers are adopting “wait and see” strategies as technology battles between operators, mobile phone manufacturers and mobile phone players continue to develop.

“We maintain that the facilitating conditions regarding the organization and technology prerequisites can continue to be perceived as non-existent for consumers”, points out Francisco José Molina, another of the study researchers, from the Department of Marketing and Market Research at UMU .

Third, the functionality of mobile payment is very similar to payment in cash or with a debit card. The value of mobile payment is created especially for financial institutions (that is, the reduction of the costs of cash circulation) and payment providers (that is, the opportunities to gather data on purchasing behavior).

“We propose that the marginal value perceived by the use of mobile payment can explain the low levels of adoption,” says López.

What should companies do

Since mobile payment services combine ubiquitous technologies and financial transactions, the intention to use mobile payments is determined by factors that may not affect the acceptance of other types of advanced mobile services. “The study shows that learning costs exist and have a negative impact on the intention to use mobile phone payments,” explains Molina. Therefore, companies must be aware of this hidden impact of learning costs and work to reduce those costs in order to increase acceptance of mobile phone payment. “Mobile payment solution providers (eg banks, operators, service providers) should promote fully developed and ubiquitous services that can be used in everyday life and ensure that those services are less costly for end users in comparison with traditional payment methods, ”says López.

Variety of mobile payment services

“There is a need to explore mobile payment due to the impact that this technology could have on purchase intention,” says Molina. Payment technologies through the device share a common characteristic: they allow the payment of services and goods through the smartphone; however, very few of these solutions of this type of purchase have been successful in the market.

Users are faced with a wide variety of in-device purchase services with different interface standards: some of them differ in terms of the required hardware (for example, a specific SIM card, phone motherboard, or cloud connectivity) , others differ in the way they access the service (for example, a downloadable app from an app store or an extensible wallet app), while others need to authenticate and authorize payments (for example, by entering codes PIN, automatic download of tokens or use of fingerprints).

“The market lacks standardized standards for user interface, user interaction, security mechanisms, distribution channels and functionality, and it is not yet clear which solutions will win out in the long term. This causes users to face learning costs that negatively affect the value that users expect from mobile payment ”, López concludes.

More information

The researchers are Francisco José Molina Castillo (UMU) and Carolina López Nicolás (UMU).

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