Adoption Trends Analysis of Social Media Payment Platforms

Mahdi H. Miraz, The Chinese University of Hong Kong; Marie Haikel-Elsabeh, Léonard de Vinci Pôle Universitaire

-- The recent proliferation of Electronic Commerce (E-commerce) has been further escalated by multifaceted emerging payment solutions such as cryptocurrencies, mobile, peer-to-peer (P2P) and social media payment platforms. While these technological advancements are gaining tremendous popularity, mostly for their ease of use, various impediments such as security and privacy concerns, societal and cultural norms etc. forbear the users’ adoption trends to some extents. Our recent article, "Analysis of Users’ Behaviour and Adoption Trends of Social Media Payment Platforms," examines the current status of the social media payment platforms as well as the projection of future adoption trends. Our research underlines the motivations and obstacles to the adoption of social media platforms. In fact, while there were many surveys and research conducted in the domain of mobile payment platforms, social media aspects had little attention. Our current research project aims to fill in this gap.

Money, including barter, i.e. exchange of commodities, has been a very important catalyst of human history for 3000 years. In today’s realm of connected economy, it is well-nigh impossible to live a day without using some sort of money – cash or cashless. From barter to Facebook’s envisaged Libra, from consensus-based Rai (Fei) stones of Yap society to today’s blockchain-based cryptocurrency, from bank notes to plastic cards or even contactless wearables – money has gone through various and different forms – to satisfy the users’ needs of that particular time aligning with the then available technologies.

The world has entered into a cashless era where the diffusion of technology, more particularly mobile payment platforms, has even reached the solicitation action of the poor on the street. In some countries, such as China, hawkers and the poor seeking alms are seen to use Quick Response (QR) code based payment systems for the payment of the products they sell or the alms they collect. While such diffusion and adoption trends of technology seem to be great blessings, there is inevitably more than what meets the eye. Further research, especially in terms of legal, ethical, regulatory and privacy aspects, as well as appropriate actions by the government agents, more precisely in terms of regulatory and monitory point of view, are required.

A multitude of web, desktop and mobile applications are now widely available to address different human needs including making payments or transferring funds. Web applications are being extended or customised to offer services for the users of handheld devices including smartphones. Therefore, a discussion of social media platforms is inevitably related to a discussion of mobile payment platforms. Since social media platforms are simultaneously available for both desktop and mobile users, to investigate the user adoption trends of social media platforms, it is also necessary to explore how mobile payment platforms are being diffused amongst various users.

While mobile payment is a broad term and being widely used, there is no firm definition of it. Conventionally, any payment made from or via any mobile device such as smartphones or other handheld devices can be considered as mobile payment. Instead of making the payment or transfer of money using any traditional route such as cash, cheques, cards etc., users can rather pay via various mobile payment options using their own devices generally either by using any mobile app or mobile wallet. Examples of such mobile payment platforms include: Apple Pay, PayPal Mobile, Google Wallet, Samsung Pay, WeChat Pay, Square Order, AliPay, MasterCard MasterPass, Paydiant, Intuit GoPayment, Visa Checkout, Android Pay etc. Depending on what techniques and technologies are used, there are multiple models of mobile payment. Amongst them, the following four are considered to be the major ones:

  1. Short Messege Service (SMS) Payment

  2. Near-field Communication (NFC) Payment

  3. Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) Payment

  4. Quick Response (QR) Code payments

There is an emerging trend towards mobile payments moving into various social media platforms enabling p2p fund transfer amongst social media users. Examples of such platform includes: WeChat Pay, Venmo, Facebook Messenger, Google Wallet, Twitter and iPayYou. Facebook has recently (2019) declared it will be implementing blockchain based cryptocurrency “Libra”, governed by an independent Libra Association, using Byzantine Fault Tolerant Consensus. Libra will be backed by a reserve of assets in order to provide it with intrinsic value. Either any crypto-exchange or Facebook’s own digital wallet “Calibra” will be required for using Libra.

Based on this literature review presented in the full paper, it can be concluded that while there are many factors affecting the adoption of social media payment platforms, however, overall it demonstrates a positive sentiment in terms of adoption and acceptance. However, risk factors associated with monetary transactions in both fiat and digital forms are very high. Therefore, a carefully designed policy, based on a multidisciplinary approach combining technological, legal as well as regulatory aspects is required. Many other aspects such as social norms, socio-economical circumstances and cross-border cooperation are also to be considered.

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