Mobile payments, waiting for GAFA

3 min reading
30 December 2020
Mobile payments, waiting for GAFA
Mobile payments, waiting for GAFA


Smartphones have become the most personal and most commonly used device for diverse purposes. The assumed commitment of Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon (GAFA) to mobile payments has greatly boosted this increasingly more common functionality.

Mobile payments have been shy to join our lives but almost all experts believe that they will soon be a common payment method. The report Consumer Insights Survey 2018is based on a survey of more than 22,400 people from 27 countries run by PwC, which tries to clarify the major future trends of trade. According to its results, the percentage of consumers going to physical stores has gone up for the third consecutive year. Customers are not only looking for a product. They want a sensorial and social shopping experience. However, this consumer habit coincides with the upward trend of shopping on the smartphone at least once a week (7% in 2013 to 17% in 2018).

The physical store and the phone: a combined experience

Use of shopping channels:

Total Retail 2018 underscores the importance of Amazon in changing the shopping mentality of merchants and consumers alike: 59% of respondents said that they buy from the online giant retailer against 56% in 2017. In fact, 14% said they only shop on Amazon, up by 4% on the previous year.

The big tech companies Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon (GAFA) constantly renew their solutions and platforms to take over the mobile payment sector. Out of these four multinationals, Facebook is probably the one with the most interesting outlook for the mobile payment business.

Supported by its control of smartphones with Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, Mark Zuckerberg’s company is undoubtedly the company with the best understanding of the user experience and commercial possibilities of smartphones.

Mark Zuckerberg’s company is the company with the best understanding of the UX and commercial possibilities of smartphones

Facebook’s strategy includes exploiting the market of mobile payments through Facebook Messenger, its instant messaging platform. Facebook Messenger’s advantages are, among others, the best possible understanding of the consumer habits and personal tastes of its over two million users; and ample experience in managing the mobile user experience and advertising in this user interface.

It has all the elements to be able to leverage mobile payments without complex processes, even without accounts or credit cards. In addition, Facebook has grown in exploring new areas of innovation such as designing conversational interfaces, chatbots, use of natural language processing and machine learning with the purchase of promising companies such as

The market understands that a full commercial experience can be worked on as has been achieved by one of the great rivals in this sector, WeChat. This was the main reason for Facebook to recruit David A. Marcus in 2014, a former PayPal executive who was Facebook’s VP of messaging products until May 2018 and is now researching the opportunities brought by Blockchain. The plan is to transform Facebook Messenger into a commercially-exploited platform that monopolizes the market compared to its rivals. Also, social networks are becoming increasingly important in offering inspiration for shoppers, another valuable trend for Facebook. Forty eight percent of respondents in PwC’s survey said that they look for inspiration on social networks where they prefer authenticity, custom offers and no intrusive approaches.

Apple is at a later stage on the strength of Apple Pay. However, its business characteristics mean that its outlook is not as good. From the outset Tim Cook’s company raised charging fees on its platform as a means of exploiting the product. The Cupertino-based company imposed a rate of 0.15% of each total amount paid through the mobile-payment platform. Nevertheless, Apple Pay’s numbers have not stopped growing since it was launched in October 2014, especially in the American market.

Apple Pay is already available in 20 countries (the latest additions were Finland, Sweden, Norway and the United Arab Emirates). And, according to Jennifer Baily (VP at Apple Pay) during the Money 20/20 conference, the platform holds a 90% global share of transactions processed from smartphones.

Apple is present in Spain through Carrefour Servicios Financieros, Santander and CaixaBank, among others. But the mobile payment market in Spain offers a lot of other options. For example, Google Pay arrived in Spain with BBVA, which also has its own payment platform: BBVA Wallet.

Are you interested in financial APIs? Discover all the APIs we can offer you at BBVA

It may interest you