Italians give NFC payments an 8 out of 10


Consumer research undertaken by payments processor SIA has found that 94% of the Italians who have had the opportunity to try out NFC payments appreciated the technology, giving the experience an average rating of 8 out of 10.

The research was conducted with participants in a number of pilot projects SIA has conducted in Italy and includes analysis of how the consumers used their NFC phones to pay as well as both consumer and merchant attitudes to the service.

Key findings included:

  • 91% of consumers made between four and ten NFC payments in a month
  • Supermarkets and shopping malls were the most popular locations to make NFC payments with 71% of participants making a payment in these locations, followed by restaurants and bars (44%) and news stands and tobacconists (29%).
  • Consumers cited speed (59%), practicality and convenience (47%), and the elimination of cash and cards (21%) as their most appreciated features. 12% of testers also pointed to its user-friendliness, the fact that a PIN is not required for small amounts and the simplicity of the payment itself.
  • Practicality (77%), speed (75%) and convenience (73%) were also the three aspects which testers believed will see NFC payment win the challenge with physical debit and credit cards.
  • Testers hope to see wider usage of NFC in the future, particularly in public transport (88%), personal documents such as health insurance cards (76%), to replace company badges (76%) and loyalty cards (73%).
  • Consumers believed a lack of staff training and familiarity (56%), technical faults (32%) and the poor distribution of contactless POS terminals (29%) were causes for concern, however.

The research also found a significant difference in the way NFC payments were used by men and women:

  • Men tended to make the same purchases on a repeated basis, such as buying a coffee, newspaper or snack on their home to work route. They also tended to use NFC only to purchase low value items.
  • Women experimented much more with NFC payments, using them for larger value purchases and in a far wider range of locations, including paying for the family shopping, in shopping malls, for household linen, fast food and even furniture.

Merchant attitudes fell into three groups, SIA found:

  • Dissatisfied but forward-looking — large chains that were not yet very happy with the spread of the technology but could see NFC payment as an interesting future business opportunity.
  • Dissatisfied — small organizations with few users who don’t yet consider mobile payment to be an interesting technology.
  • Satisfied — small organizations with a good number of users who see mobile payment as a way to satisfy their clientele and win their loyalty.

Overall, merchants outlined two clear advantages to NFC payments:

  • All felt that the merits of NFC payments related to consumer experience, with convenience and speed being the key factors.
  • Large organizations also saw the potential benefits at the point of sale, particularly in terms of security and the handling of virtual money compared to cash.

They also identified three potential disadvantages of NFC:

  • Poor distribution of the technology among consumers.
  • Italians’ general resistance to new technologies.
  • The presumed difficulty of use for some classes of customers.

“The results of the experiments over the past year with various banks and telcos confirm that mobile payments arouse great interest and can change behaviour and habits,” says SIA chief executive Massimo Arrighetti.
“The mobile phone can certainly make an enormous contribution to the development of new payment methods and other services useful in our daily lives. However, it is necessary to create real situations in which to use them and to promote collaboration among all the players involved.”

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