Mobile Payments Still Looking to Grab a Foothold

London, 11 January 2018: Proximity mobile payments are becoming more popular in the UK, but it’s still far from mass adoption.

According to eMarketer’s latest proximity mobile payment forecast, just over 22% of UK smartphone users will use a phone to pay for goods and services at the point of sale (POS) in 2018. Though double-digit growth will continue through 2020, it will slow throughout the forecast period, dipping to 8.5% by 2021.eMarketer estimates 9.2 million people in the UK will use a mobile phone to pay at the POS this year, and the sector will grow by almost 17%.

China has the largest mobile proximity payments market in the world, with 77.5% of smartphone users doing so this year. Within Europe, the UK’s smartphone penetration rate will rank behind Norway (23.3%), Sweden (33.8%) and Denmark (38.9%) in 2018. One reason why the UK is lagging behind may be the proliferation of contactless card technology.

Banks in the UK began issuing such cards as early as 2007, while Transport for London’s adoption in 2014 further bolstered consumer usage.


“There’s no doubt that mobile proximity payments are beginning to get a foothold in the UK,” said eMarketer senior analyst Bill Fisher. “But they face some tough competition that just isn’t present in many other countries. Any standard issue bank card in the UK, both debit and credit, now comes with contactless technology as standard. Mobile proximity payment providers need to convince consumers that their tech offers benefits above and beyond this well-entrenched, and incredibly convenient, method of proximity payment.”


eMarketer’s forecasts and estimates are based on an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from research firms, government agencies, media firms and public companies, plus interviews with top executives at publishers, ad buyers and agencies. Data is weighted based on methodology and soundness. Each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of available data means the forecasts reflect the latest business developments, technology trends and economic changes.

About eMarketer

Founded in 1996, eMarketer is the first place to look for research about marketing in a digital world. eMarketer enables thousands of companies worldwide to understand marketing trends, consumer behavior and get the data needed to succeed in the competitive and fast-changing digital economy.  eMarketer’s flagship product, eMarketer PRO, is home to all of eMarketer’s research including; forecasts, analyst reports, aggregated data from 3,000+ sources, interviews with industry leaders, articles, charts and comparative market data. eMarketer’s free daily newsletters span the US, EMEA and APAC and are read by more than 200,000 readers globally.  In 2016 eMarketer, Inc. was acquired by European media giant Axel Springer S.E.

UK Smartphone Spending Overtakes Tablet Spending

London, 19 December 2017: In 2017 for the first time, UK retail ecommerce purchases made via smartphone will overtake that of tablets, according to eMarketer’s latest retail ecommerce forecast.

This year, UK retail ecommerce purchases made by using a smartphone will be worth nearly £18 billion, representing a 49.7% share of all retail mcommerce sales. By comparison, purchases made via tablet will account for 49.4% of mobile outlays, with the remaining, fractional portion assigned to sales made via feature phone. By 2021, retail ecommerce purchases made via smartphone sales will represent 56.0% of mcommerce sales.

This shift in spending habits is mirrored in overall mobile usage habits in the UK. Tablet penetration in the country has been one of the highest in Europe, but growth has leveled off in the past couple years as people increasingly choose large-screen smartphones as their primary device-which has subsequently impacted ecommerce behaviour.

Overall UK retail ecommerce sales are expected to reach £83.55 billion this year, eMarketer estimates, accounting for more than 19% of total retail sales. By 2021, more than a quarter (25.8%) of all retail sales will be digital.


“To put that into context, the proportion in the US will be less than half of the UK total this year, at just 9.0%,” said Bill Fisher, senior analyst at eMarketer. “Indeed, outside of China, the UK is the world’s most advanced retail ecommerce market in terms of proportional sales. And despite, or perhaps because of, the current economic uncertainty in the UK, ecommerce sales continue to post strong growth.”

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