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Economic Brief

July 1, 2021

Richmond Fed Research Examines Why the US Lags in Mobile Payment Adoption

The United States is considered a leader in payment services, yet it has fallen behind countries like China and Kenya in mobile payment innovation. According to the Richmond Fed’s latest Economic Brief, however, such behavior may not only be expected from a payment system leader, it might even be the optimal path.

Economist Zhu Wang  and professor Pengfei Han of Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management found that the benefits of adopting mobile payment for countries that have adopted card payment may not be sufficiently high to merit the adoption costs. However, countries that haven’t adopted card payment — such as many developing nations — may find the costs worth it.

The Richmond Fed’s Economic Brief series provides essays on economic issues and trends. Sign up to receive an email notification when a new essay is posted.


As part of our nation’s central bank, the Richmond Fed is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks working together with the Board of Governors to support a healthy economy and deliver on our mission to foster economic stability and strength. We connect with community and business leaders across the Fifth Federal Reserve District — including the Carolinas, District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and most of West Virginia — to monitor economic conditions, address issues facing our communities, and share this information with monetary and financial policymakers. We also work with banks to ensure they are operating safely and soundly, supply financial institutions with currency that’s fit for distribution, and provide a safe and efficient way to transfer funds through our nation’s payments system.

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