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Mobile wallets: no shortage of consumer appetite but confusion reigns, finds YouGov

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Consumers want mobile payments and the ‘mobile wallet’ may have become an industry buzz phrase, but research by YouGov shows 70% of consumers haven’t heard of the concept, and 91% haven’t heard of Near Field Communications (NFC) – the technology that enables cashless payments on their mobile handset.

The research revealed an appetite for mobile payments – almost one quarter (23%) of people are interested in paying for items using their mobile phone instead of cash. However, there is a high level of confusion about the technology, as well as concerns about personal and data security. YouGov believes these must be addressed by the mobile industry if the technology is to enjoy mass consumer adoption in the near future.

More than one third (36%) of respondents admitted they didn’t know if their existing phone was enabled to make cashless payments. Perhaps more worryingly, of the respondents that already have this same technology on their credit or debit cards* the vast majority (69%) never use it. 20% of those prefer to use chip and pin, and 15% aren’t sure how it works. 2% of respondents believe they already have NFC technology in their phone.

While 5% agree that they will get the technology as soon as it’s available, the vast majority – almost one half (48%) – won’t be rushing to swap their real wallet for their mobile wallet until their issues have been addressed.

As Russell Feldman, the YouGov Consultant who led the research says: “Many consumers are attracted by the idea of paying for items via their mobile phone. But it is down to mobile operators and handset manufacturers to work with retailers to educate consumers about the real advantages of paying for items in this way. We believe once people have seen it in practice – and are reassured about the measures in place to protect their financial and personal security – they will be quick to adopt it and the industry will reap the rewards.”

Consumers definitely see benefits in paying for items using wave and pay technology – convenience, speed, ease, saving paper, improved security of personal information, and keeping track of spending more easily -but their concerns are real and will need to be tackled.

Of those respondents that said they would be likely to adopt the cash-free payment technology, they see themselves buying everything from small purchases like sandwiches, magazines and newspapers (81%), to more expensive items such as CDs, DVDs and games (65%). More than one third (39%) could see themselves making bigger investments including games consoles, clothes and even the weekly shop. Feldman says “This is encouraging. Despite these concerns, consumers are ready to be reassured and when they are, they imagine themselves spending a lot more than the current per item limit of £15.”

Half (51%) of mobile phone owners expect that Apple will offer handsets with mobile payment capabilities. 49% expect BlackBerry to offer them, and 43% would expect to find mobile payment on a Nokia handset.. Vodafone (55%), Orange (55%) and O2 (55%) were the networks respondents considered most likely to offer mobile payment.

As Feldman concludes: “Our survey reveals that there is strong potential for mobile payments. But for it to truly have mass appeal and adoption, there is much to be done. The industry must harness the enthusiasm of early users to reassure the rest of us and demonstrate the real-world benefits our everyday lives.”

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