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Mobile payments may replace cash, credit by 2020, experts say

Consumer Reports News: April 17, 2012 04:53 PM

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By 2020, mobile payments will have gained mainstream acceptance and could largely replace cash and credit for most online and in-store purchases, according to a new survey of technology experts and stakeholders by the Pew Internet & American Life Project released today.

The study, conducted with the Elon University's Imagining the Internet Center, surveyed 1,021 Internet and tech experts and users, and although the majority of respondents saw a fast-approaching future for mobile payment systems, some said they believed the trend toward mobile payments will slow down.

Sixty-five percent of respondents said they believe that by 2020, most people will have embraced and fully adopted the use of smart-device swiping for purchases, nearly eliminating the need for cash or credit cards. But 33 percent said they believe that mobile payments will not have gained traction by 2020 because of both privacy and security concerns. Detailing this finding the study authors write that: "The security implications raise too many concerns among consumers about the safety of their money. And people are resistant to letting technology companies learn even more about their personal purchasing habits."

Currently, if you use your cell phone to make mobile payments, your level of protection against financial liability if something goes wrong varies depending on your wireless carrier's policies and your cell phone contract. Last year at this time, Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, called on the big wireless carriers to strengthen contracts to protect you when you make mobile payments.

For more on some of the hidden costs of mobile payments, see New ways to pay, and Consumers Union's: Mobile payments tip sheet: What can consumers do now.

The Future of Money in a Mobile Age [Pew Internet & American Life Project]

Maggie Shader

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