The mobile payments landscape has been laid out pretty cleanly for some time now. The millennials took to it like ducks to water, Generation X is skeptical but active, boomers are a bit confused and most of the Greatest Generation hasn’t really started. Then there’s Generation Z and a likely backlash shaping up against mobile payments, but still. A new report from Bank of America says that the boomers aren’t quite as confused as they once were, and are increasingly finding value in mobile payments.
The survey revealed that almost half—49 percent—of baby boomers not currently using mobile technology to make peer-to-peer (P2P) payments plan to start doing so by the end of this year. Right now, just 20 percent of the survey’s respondents were boomers using mobile, which means a pretty hefty gain in the overall numbers.
The big reason behind the change? Saving time. Sixty-eight percent of respondents noted that P2P transactions were specifically brought into play as a means of saving time. What’s more, amounts didn’t unsettle the respondents; almost half were more than ready to send a payment of at least $1,000.
While some might find this move unaccountably unsettling—even Bank of America branches admit they’re not pushing these services—the Bank Analysis Center’s John Carusone notes that banks are following retailers into the mobile arena, and that’s catching customers’ attention. Banks are having a difficult time balancing the need for physical presence with the increasingly cost-effective angle of mobile and online services.
It’s interesting that the boomers are starting to catch up; many of them didn’t even see a smartphone until they were in their 50s, and some didn’t even see a cordless phone until well after their 30th birthday. Still, given the sheer number of alternatives out there in mobile payments—from banks to device makers to even individual businesses—it’s not surprising that some boomers would get intrigued and start asking around. It’s even less surprising that said boomers would start asking at their bank, which is a trusted source of information for many boomers.
This underscores the reason that banks need to get more aggressively into the mobile payments market. Plain and simple, there’s too much at stake to not get involved, thanks to increasing interest and potential new profit.