People Don't Trust Mobile Wallets and Apps

Worries over security and privacy hold back mobile phone users, survey finds

iZettle Mobile Payments Credit: flickr/Haken Dahlstrom

Trust is eroding among mobile device users when it comes to making purchases or app downloads.

A survey of 15,000 mobile users in 15 countries found that their trust level is degraded because they believe that payment systems aren't secure or they don't trust a service or online merchant. Mobile users are also worried about having to share too much personal information when downloading an app.

This lack of trust grew the most in the U.S. The lack of trust across all areas jumped from 26% in 2013 to 35% in 2014 among U.S. respondents. The latest survey was conducted in the third quarter of 2014, but was made public last week. Smartphone and feature phone users were sent an SMS to join the survey and completed the survey on their devices.

The implications of the survey could limit and possibly diminish the rollout of mobile payment and electronic wallet systems, such as Apple Pay, and the growth in app downloads, according to analysts.

Near half of the respondents said this overall lack of trust limits the the number of apps they download, while 72% said they were unhappy sharing location data or contact details.

The survey was commissioned by MEF, an international trade association focused on mobile content and commerce. MEF, based in London, includes hundreds of large companies as members, including Samsung, Microsoft, and MasterCard, with more than 35 companies from North America alone.

Andrew Bud, chairman of MEF, said the survey results should prompt companies offering mobile payments, content and services to consistently apply "high levels of transparency, security and privacy to every mobile transaction."

The MEF launched a privacy policy initiative in 2014 to make it easy for app developers to integrate a line of code within an app that offers customers a short explanation of privacy in plain English. Details are on the MEF website at appprivacy.net.

One of the most dramatic findings in the survey shows that 72% of respondents said they were unhappy sharing personal information when using an app, an increase from 65% in 2013. In the U.S., the 2014 number was 79% who said they were not comfortable sharing personal information. And 69% said they had the right to own any data collected through their smart devices.

"These figures have significant consequences for those looking to develop the Internet of Things which seeks to connect billions of devices to the Internet and to each other," the survey report said.

Because of a lack of trust over security, 36% in the overall survey said they hadn't tried out a mobile wallet on a smartphone. Meanwhile, only 15% said they had already used a mobile wallet or were thinking of doing so. Mobile users are concerned their personal information might be used without their consent, including 22% who are concerned their financial data might be stolen.

This story, "People Don't Trust Mobile Wallets and Apps" was originally published by Computerworld.

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