Consumers worry that mobile wallets are not safe from phone hackers

Intersperience research reveals mobile payment security concerns

·       phone hacking fears prevalent among consumers

·       44% worry about lack of security software on mobiles

·       only 17% of consumers want to use mobiles as wallets in future

While new payment systems known as ‘mobile wallets’ seem very much to be the way in which we will be paying for our goods in the future, but Intersperience have discovered in their latest research that there are still major security concerns. The big worry is phone hacking, and until this these fears are allayed it is unlikely that this swipe and pay system via a smartphone will be  widely adopted across the UK.

The research specialists in international consumerism questioned adults across the country about how they felt regarding using their smartphones to pay for goods via the mobile payment systems, and only 17% expressed an interest in using their phone as a wallet. The top concern for consumers was the lack of security regarding the software, and 44% cited this as their main worry.

The project from Intersperience, known as Digital Selves, asked for the views of over 1000 consumers in the UK, and these results coincide with the US trial of the new mobile electronic ‘Google Wallet’ system from the search engine giant. The anticipated launch for this new system in the UK 2012, but as it stands there isn’t a great deal of interest in it, according to this survey.

It also revealed a wide mix of both rational and emotional opinions on the security of mobile payment, as 24% said that using a mobile phone to purchase goods felt less safe that other methods, but they didn’t know why this was. A further 24% also believe that they are more likely to have their smartphone than their wallet stolen.

It also showed that many consumers feel vulnerable following high profile phone hacking scandals. One respondent said: “After the recent phone hacking scandals it’s clear that mobiles can be hacked. I’d be worried criminals would learn to do it.”

Paul Hudson, CEO of Intersperience said: “There is no doubt that the phone hacking scandals have unnerved consumers. We also detected a marked rise in security concerns when people use devices with mobile internet access compared to fixed access via PCs. These beliefs will impact the pace at which UK consumers adopt mobile payment systems.”

The research showed that just 8% of adults currently use their mobile phone for payment although this is expected to increase as 21% said they would like to use their phone to buy something in future.

Digital Selves also looked at consumers’ willingness to use PCs and mobiles to pay for goods or services ordered online. It found that while 11% of people would hesitate to make a purchase via PC, this more than trebled to 37% when it came to the proportion who would hesitate to buy via a mobile phone.

Hudson commented: “There is a common but not necessarily logical perception that as your internet link becomes ‘untethered’ your information is automatically less secure. The belief stems from the context of mobile usage which is generally when you are on the move in public places, although in reality there are far higher instances of security breaches over PCs than mobiles.”

The younger generation emerged as the keenest future fans of mobile commerce as one in three (33%) said they would like to use their mobiles to buy 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.

Hudson said: “Today’s adults may be adopting a cautious stance on mobile payments but we expect the next generation to be more enthusiastic. Digital Natives will be in the vanguard of mobile commerce.”