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Students embrace mobile payments

12 October 2016 - 09:51 by Paul Tissington

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Students entering higher education this year are more likely than ever to want to be able to carry out safe shopping online from a mobile device or use their smartphone to pay for items in real world stores, according to a new study from Vista Retail Support.

More youngsters are heading to universities across the UK this month than ever before, bringing with them an estimated £30 billion in spending power. Within the next three years this will have risen to £37 billion annually, meaning that retailers will really want to maximise their impact among this audience.

Seventy one per cent of modern students have access to a payment card with contactless connectivity onboard. Roughly the same proportion use their smartphones for safe shopping online or for in-store payments, meaning that there is a parity between the popularity of these two emerging platforms.

At the other end of the scale, wearable devices like smartwatches are not gaining traction as expected, with just under a tenth of students stating that they own this type of gadget. This limits the likelihood that retail-based activities will be carried out via wearables among anything other than a small minority of students for the foreseeable future.

Report spokesperson, James Pepper, said that the slow uptake of wearables may suggest that they are either prohibitively expensive, or not widely supported by retailers. But for the time being a combination of traditional payment card transactions and modern mobile solutions are preferable to 96 per cent of students.

Pepper said that retailers had an opportunity to present themselves as well equipped to cope with the current crop of tech-savvy, digital native students. This generation has grown up at a time when smartphones were the norm and now they are better able to use them in a retail context than any of their older counterparts.