Majority of Britons ‘uncomfortable’ with mobile device payments

More than half of UK consumers are distinctly uncomfortable with the idea of contactless payments made through their mobile device, according to new research.

A survey by Vision Critical found that 51% report being fairly or very uncomfortable at the prospect of using mobile phones to make payments. Women are particularly sceptical, but there is a niche of young men and current smartphone users who support the practice.

“Mobile payments have been talked about for years, and it looks like they’re finally going to get off the ground,” said Mike Stevens, head of research at Vision Critical’s London office. “But a lot of people are clearly uncomfortable. There is a perceived security risk that will need to be addressed as services are rolled out.”

The research showed more consumers trust banks to operate a mobile payment platform than card providers, mobile operators or handset manufacturers.

“Banks could play a strong role here,” added Stevens. “They are generally more trusted by their customers than other players in the mobile payments game.”

Two in five respondents (41%) favour debiting funds from a current bank account, while one in five (20%) would prefer a dedicated mobile wallet account for the purpose of making mobile payments.

Mobile payments would decrease the use of cash and debit cards more than credit cards, the survey found, with one third of respondents (33%) saying they would spend a lot or a little less with cash and debit cards. One in five respondents (22%) would spend less on their credit cards with the advent of mobile payments.

The survey’s findings echo those of a recent survey of French consumers conducted for Wincor Nixdorf by Ifop, which found that the majority are not in favour of using a phone to make payments.

The news comes as it emerged last month that British consumers will be able to use NFC phones to make payments at stores across the country from the second quarter of this year.

Barclaycard and Everything Everywhere, the recently created merger between the UK arms of mobile network operators Orange and T-Mobile, announced that the UK’s first commercial NFC service will go live during the second quarter of 2011. O2 UK will begin its NFC service on the second half of 2011.

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