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Consumers cautious on mobile wallet

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14 October 2011

Phone users concerned about possible data theft

Consumers’ security concerns about using their mobiles to pay for goods or services are likely to hamper UK adoption of new ‘mobile wallet’ payment systems, according to the latest research from Intersperience.

Intersperience questioned British adults on their attitudes towards using mobile phone payment systems and found that just 17% would like to use their mobile phone as a wallet in future, with 44% citing a lack of security software in mobiles, as their chief concern.

The findings are part of an in-depth study, Digital Selves, which surveyed more than 1,000 UK adults. The research findings, which coincide with trials of Google’s new wallet payment system in the United States ahead of an anticipated 2012 UK launch, revealed a mix of emotional and rational views on mobile phone security.

Almost a quarter (24%) of respondents worry that their mobile is more likely to be stolen than their wallet while the same percentage said that using their mobile for payment “feels less secure but I’m not sure why”, highlighting the extent to which irrational fears may govern consumer behaviour in this area.

The research uncovered a marked rise in security concerns when people use devices with mobile internet access such as smartphones compared to accessing the internet via a fixed connection on a PC. This is despite the fact that there have been far higher instances of security breaches via PCs than mobiles.

The study found that consumers generally feel happier about security on fixed devices while the more ‘untethered’ the device, the greater the security fears. A key reason for the level of consumer anxiety over ‘untethered’ devices is the context in which mobile phones are used, which is largely when people are on the move in public places rather than sitting comfortably in a private personal space.

The study looked at consumers’ willingness to conduct transactions via PC and via mobile and found that while 11% of people would hesitate to make a purchase via PC, this figure more than trebled to 37% when it came to the percentage who would hesitate to use a mobile phone to buy something.

Digital Selves showed that currently only 8% of adults use their mobile to buy things; however it indicated that confidence in mobile shopping will increase as it becomes more commonplace, with 21% of people saying they would like to use their mobile to buy something in future.

The younger generation emerged as the keenest future fans of mobile commerce - although just 7% of under-18s currently shop via mobile, one in three (33%) said they would like to use their mobile to buy something in future. Under-18s are also keener on mobile wallets or payment systems, with 25% happy to use one instead of a traditional payment method.

Intersperience CEO Paul Hudson said: “Consumers are fearful because they are adjusting not just to a digital world but an increasingly mobile world. There is a common perception that as your internet link becomes ‘untethered’ you are automatically less secure and that will impact on the pace at which UK consumers will adopt mobile payment schemes.”

However he added: “Today’s adults may be adopting a cautious stance on mobile payments but we expect the next generation to take a bolder approach. Our research showed that under-18s are much more comfortable both with the concept of shopping via mobile phone and mobile wallet systems. Digital Natives will be in the vanguard of mobile commerce.”

As featured in today's Telegraph article - Majority of Britons are scared of 'wave and pay'

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