Stop Spewing Mobile Wallet BS

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If I’ve learned anything about doing consumer research it’s this: You can’t ask consumers their opinions about things that they don’t know.

So, feel free to publicize your research about which mobile wallets are most popular with consumers, if you want, but I’m not buying any of it.

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comScore recently conducted a study regarding consumers’ awareness of mobile wallets and found the following:

According to the study, nearly half of all consumers (assuming the study was a study of all consumers) have used PayPal’s digital wallet. That would mean that pretty much everybody in the US who owns a smartphone has used PayPal’s digital wallet.

I can hear the PayPal people laughing at that all the way here on the other side of the continent.

I find it funny, too, because, until recently, PayPal didn’t even have a digital wallet. According to articles published last March, May 2012 was the expected launch date for the Paypal digital wallet. (p.s. I can’t find any articles that confirm that it was launched last May).

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Well, hold on a second here. Maybe our terminology isn’t accurate.

Maybe Paypal has a digital wallet, but not a mobile wallet. Yes, that must be it.

But if that’s the case, then Amazon’s one-click buying should be considered a digital wallet, too. And since you can make P2P transactions from many banks’ online banking platforms, that’s kind of a digital wallet, too, no? But comScore didn’t ask about the awareness of either of those wallets.

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If you’re confused about the difference between a digital and mobile wallet, or what a mobile wallet exactly is, welcome to the club. According to the Venture Beat article (citing the comScore study), less than half of the respondents really understand what a digital wallet is.

But, if that’s the case, then I have a question for Venture Beat: Why would you title the article “PayPal destroys Google Wallet, MasterCard, Square, and Visa in digital wallet study”?

Total BS. The comScore compared apples to vaporfruit, and VB — which acknowledged the consumer confusion — runs with a bogus headline.

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Let’s take a look at some of the other numbers.

According to the comScore study, 1% of respondents use (or have used) the Lemon Wallet and 2% use LevelUp.

The companies, themselves, report quite different numbers.

A Mobile Commerce Today article from December 2012 stated that LevelUp had reached the 500k user mark. Meanwhile, a Bank Systems & Technology article from November 2012 said that Lemon Wallet had 2.5 million users. 

My calculator says the number of Lemon Wallet users are 5 times the number of LevelUp users. Yet the comScore study reports that LevelUp’s market penetration is double that of Lemon’s.

Maybe my calculator is broken.

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What should we make of all this?

Simply, that the mobile wallet space is one messy pile of you-know-what at the moment, and that any claim about who’s winning or losing is: 1) bogus, and 2) the work of a fool.

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