shopping_cartWhat’s your credit card number? I don’t ask because I’m trapped in some third-world prison with no way to pay my own ransom — what is this, 1999? — I’m simply wondering if you can recite your credit card number, CCV, expiration date, and legal name without grabbing your wallet. Now imagine someone asking this every time you want to purchase something with your smartphone, and you might understand why many mobile shoppers are abandoning their virtual shopping carts just before checkout.

Harris Interactive, in a study commissioned by Jumio, reported that 66 percent of people who use their smartphones to shop have abandoned a shopping cart “due to obstacles encountered during checkout.” SeeWhy claims that the abandonment rate is closer to 97 percent and cites difficulty entering payment and shipping information on a mobile device as a problem for many shoppers. Either way, the mobile Web has more abandoned shopping carts than a Walmart parking lot.

Some companies are trying to solve this problem. Amazon allows its customers to purchase an item with a single tap. Google announced a similar tool, the Checkout button, during its Google I/O developer conference. Apple’s iCloud Keychain, which will be part of its Safari Web browser after the launch of iOS 7, will automatically remember and enter users’ credit card information. Los Angeles-based Payvia is also trying to make it easier to shop on mobile devices, and it’s doing so without asking for your credit card information.

Payvia’s service automatically detects a shopper’s cellphone number while they’re shopping and, with two taps, allows those shoppers to charge an item’s cost to their monthly phone bill. A text message confirming the charge is sent after the transaction has completed, and recurring subscriptions tell users at the end of each month how much they paid and when they’ll be charged again.

Other services, such as the Braintree-powered Venmo Touch platform, promise similar functionalities. If you were to use TaskRabbit on your iPhone, for example, and then switch to HotelTonight, Venmo Touch would recognize that you’ve already entered your credit card information and ask if you want to use it in the new app without re-entering all of that data. Payvia’s service simply charges you through your carrier bill instead of your credit card.

Payvia CEO Darcy Wedd says that trials meant to test the viability of carrier billing for ticketing, parking, and other real-world goods and services are almost underway. “It might take a couple of years, but there will be the ability to purchase physical goods and charge it to the carrier bill,” he says.

This might be especially appealing in emerging markets, Wedd argues, because of the rising popularity of cellphones and smartphones. Payvia is partnering with Mobile XL, a Web browser for feature (“dumb”) phones, to spur that adoption within those markets. “In terms of having a means for customers in emerging markets to transact the carrier is the perfect method,” Wedd says. “They have their phone, they use their phone, and they should be able to transact with that phone.”

And for all of those people tapping and swiping their way through storefront after storefront only to abandon their virtual carts when they’re asked to fill out their information? Between Payvia, Google, Venmo, Apple, and who-knows-who-else, those carts might finally be emptied and stowed away instead of being left to rust.

[Image courtesy nocklebeast]