E-wallet payments to match card payments by 2017? – I don't buy it

On 22 January, WorldPay announced that e-wallets will account for as many payments as cards by 2017, with both accounting for 41% of payments. But I'm sorry to say that even as the proud holder of my very own PayPal account, I just don't buy it writes Ellie Chambers

On 22 January, WorldPay announced that e-wallets will account for as many payments as cards by 2017, with both accounting for 41% of payments. But I’m sorry to say that even as the proud holder of my very own PayPal account, I just don’t buy it writes Ellie Chambers

Don’t get me wrong, I love online shopping. I’m a dedicated user of Asos, eBay and Amazon, bought nearly all my Christmas presents on a combination of the three and am constantly having to nip down to reception to collect a garment I’ve had delivered to the office.

But I’m also constantly reaching for my card for even the smallest of purchases and I’m not alone – my editor deplores the way people of my generation use our cards anywhere for anything.

It wasn’t so long ago that stopping off to withdraw cash before hitting the pubs and clubs was a regular feature of a night out, but now I think: Why bother? Everywhere takes cards.

I’m not just basing this on anecdotal evidence or my own experience. There’s a huge amount of hype around electronic and mobile payments that is frequently precariously close to tipping into hysteria, but if you look carefully enough you will find the occasional voice of reason.

Take Capgemini’s World Payments Report 2013, released last September. This report, by Capgemini and RBS, said that industry analysts may have over-estimated the growth of electronic and mobile payments.

This report said that, on analysis of 2012 data, there were large gaps between estimates and actual transactions.

Additionally, e-wallet take up is not just dependent on users – retailers must also drive its use by signing up to schemes that allow PayPal or similar to be used on their sites.

There’s no denying that PayPal is the dominant force in the e-wallet market, but new wallets are emerging and perversely, the emergence of new wallets could even slow take-up.

I can see merchants struggling to choose between a partnership with wallets such as MasterCard’s MasterPass – a very plausible solution with a powerful company behind it – and the currently dominant PayPal. Will some, confused by the choice, end up going for neither?

In addition, mobile wallets and other m-payment solutions are popping up everywhere. It seems like every day I have an email from an excitable PR extolling the virtues of this or that mobile payment scheme.

I don’t think the e-wallet’s time has come and I’m beginning to think it never will.

Is it possible that by the time it does, the e-wallet will have been rendered obsolete by the m-wallet?