Consumers don’t trust mobile payment

Research from security specialist Unisys suggests that consumers remain wary of using their mobile phones as payment mechanisms, driven by concerns over security. Of more than 13,000 mobile subscribers from 14 countries surveyed in March, 71 per cent said that they would not consider using a mobile device to bank or shop online.

Scepticism was highest in France, where 86 per cent expressed their reluctance, while residents of the UK (79 per cent), Australia (78 per cent), Belgium and Italy (both at 77 per cent), and the US (71 per cent), revealed themselves to be extremely cautious towards the concept of mobile payments.

The research also revealed that 59 per cent of the sample did not trust in the security of mobile device for financial services, while only nine per cent of the total base had ever made mobile transactions of this nature. This figure was lowest in the UK, where only one per cent of respondents had used these services.

The survey of German users revealed yielded a more positive outlook. Twenty-one per cent of German respondents currently use a mobile phone or personal organiser to conduct financial transactions, representing the highest percentage of any country or region included in the survey.

Survey results suggested that users are far more willing to trust banks for secure financial transactions than they are to rely on network operators and online retailers, although there were variations region to region. Italians, for example were almost twice as likely as Malaysians (72 per cent to 38 per cent) to trust a bank to secure a mobile transaction.

“Despite unprecedented growth in the number of cell phone users and the advancement of mobile technologies, telecom providers, online retailers, and financial institutions seem unable to convince consumers worldwide that a secure platform exists for conducting online mobile transactions,” said Tim Kelleher, vice president of enterprise security at Unisys. “There is a great deal of money to be made in mobile payments, but only when consumers believe that the security of the transaction meets or exceeds the freedom of using mobile devices.”

Unisys argued that these responses indicated a need for further collaboration between the financial and telecom communities. “The fact that consumers trust banks more than others to secure mobile transactions bodes well for the financial-services industry,” Kelleher said. “But banks must still find ways to work alongside telecom providers and retailers to leverage their innovation while educating consumers on the realities of mobile banking and payment security. Collectively, they must prove that conducting a financial transaction via a mobile device is as secure as doing so on a desktop computer or in front of a bank teller at a local branch.”


  1. Avatar Brian Collins 19/06/2008 @ 12:21 pm


    It seems to me that it’s not surprising that users don’t trust their mobiles for financial services. There is a basic deep mistrust, fed by a continuing failure of the network operators to provide clear, flexible transparent tariffs. If there is basic mistrust of the operators, there will inevitably be mistrust of any of the services they offer.

    Why does my operator not tell me if they introduce a more favourable tariff for the services I use? (Just like my bank doesn’t tell me if they introduce a new account paying higher interest than my account that I opened last year?)

    Why does my operator specify that I can have THIS package of services or THAT package, when what I really want is what suits my needs? As an engineer I know that what matters is the demand I make for network services, not the particular bundle that someone wants to sell me. And don’t mention overseas access to Internet, which can cost me 100 times more than the local person sitting in the train next to me.

    Unless users see their network operator as giving fair value and an open choice of their basic services, why should any user expect better treatment for any other service they may offer in the future?

    Brian Collins

  2. Avatar iain whyte 30/06/2008 @ 2:53 pm

    I don’t see the relevance of the comments made by Brian Collins. Operators are a tunnel or an enabler of online services not the end point. Online services are great on a PC. Why? Big screen, padlock in the corner, no fear of not being able to see some important information just off screen, the ability to print-off or save a transaction screen. How much of this can you do in the mobile space? Very little until recently. Newer models like iPhone – big screen, decent browser, zoom and shrink, big keypad gives an experience good enough to make web transactions without fear. I can log on to my bank accounts, transfer money, pay bills etc. just as I can on my PC. Print-outs are more of a challenge though! So to my mind 4 things are needed for mobile transactions to take off. Web-sites that are optimised for content and usability which means design for 320 x 240 screens, an indicator of end to end security and a mobile with a good browser. Finally data needs to be cheap to encourage use of mobile Internet. All 4 factors have come together now but the market will take time to grow – just like it did 8 years ago on the PC Internet.

  3. Avatar Michael Oakley 30/06/2008 @ 3:30 pm

    People need to be aware that using their mobile phone as a source of locating their secure information is absolutely no different to that of using the internet.
    Im going to use the example of online banking to mobile phone banking.

    When you subscribe you are required to prove you are the person who owns the account, you are also sent through the post a code to activate your account.
    The same applies for mobile banking, there is no difference in its installation and the security is just as strong.

    so i suppose the real question is, how many people trust Online banking as a whole?

  4. Avatar Nico 01/07/2008 @ 1:38 pm

    There is not enough transparency in the mobile payment chain for consumers to feel confident, and the one party – the operator – that could address that is not high on the trustmark due to complex billing (consumer), tariffs, roaming charges etc. There remains the need for an independent 3rd party a la VISA, PayPal etc to “manage and facilitate mobile payments”. It’s interesting what PayPal Mobile is trying to do, but it’s early days.

  5. Avatar Imanol Garcia 02/07/2008 @ 3:47 pm

    Mobiles are even better than PCs from a security point of view but if you use a java application instead of a browser.
    The influence of the mobile operators is not crucial but important to spread this service. Once we have lower tarifs the service will increase rapidly.
    Probably mobiles are not the preferred user device for financial services today but if you need to access to your account or to order some money transfer and you are not at your office or at your home probably the mobile is the best device to use.
    So as the complementary device to access to your financial services, the mobile is the best and probably in future the distance (in terms of sessions per time) between the PC and the mobile will be reduce significantly.

    The point of trust is in fact related with the familiarity the user have with the device, is not a technical question, is simply a question of time.

  6. Avatar Leon G. Vandenberg 04/07/2008 @ 3:18 pm


    This is hardly a new issue. My experience in dealing with Mobile Phones for consumer transactions early early mCommerce days started in 1997 with foundation of the Global Mobile Commerce Forum or GMCF


    While active in this industry and attending the first ever JaveOne confernence. I helped spec’d design and drive our team to build “a carrier independent” Dual Slot Mobile Phone. In the industry at that time, Motorola even built a Dual Slot phone for French Marketplace (which funny enough was NOT Carrier Independent).

    The Newcom Device was called a “Funge Appliance” it based on a Virtual SIM – had an early KVM inside and the technology was sold and was morphed into a mobile POS solution for WAY Systems Inc. … looking at it now its hardly portable… but it works and it is TRUSTED to do payments and banking transactions


    Today – people should review…
    – Real Thought Leadership on the whole value chain including consumer’s point of view, All of this is found at Mobey Forum – Read this material – It is the Future… The Security Element – is key and also contactless forms and form factors and poximity payment methods will streamline the user’s experience and keep the device size small.

    The Security Element
    – this approach is used in TDA Tech’s long range wireless modules and in all our hardware products. The Security Element allows our Zero Day Trust Model to extend into the Chinese OEM channel. Later on “in the consumers hand” “TDA Tech enabled devices and/or modules will secure and perform Payments and Content delivered over Bluetooth, WLAN and 4G Broadband networks.

    Early Mobey Forum Results and a joint presentation with TDA Tech and “Office of CTO” – British Telecom PLC set the roadmap for our development and wireless platform requirements – nearly 3 years ago.


    Leon G. Vandenberg
    Founder and CTO
    TDA Tech Ltd (HK)

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