Security and privacy concerns holding back mobile payments market, finds Ofcom study

Out-Law News | 16 Dec 2014 | 10:39 am | 2 min. read

Consumer concerns about security and privacy are holding back the global mobile payments market, according to a study by the UK's communications regulator.

Ofcom's International Communications Market report (386-page / 2.83MB PDF) found that the mobile payments market growth has been "relatively low" compared to the mobile banking market in the UK and across other countries. It said that many consumers across the world had said that concerns about the security of payments made via mobile devices and the privacy of their personal data had put them off making payments on their own mobile devices.

"Security concerns are a barrier to take-up of mobile payments in all comparator countries," Ofcom said in its report. "Our consumer research suggests that the convenience of other payment methods, and concerns about security and privacy, are among the main reasons why those with mobile phones have never made a mobile payment. With the exception of Italy (28%) and Japan (22%), between 36% (in France) and 51% (in China) of non-users across the comparator countries cited security concerns as reason for not making mobile payments."

"One in three non-users in the UK stated they were concerned about privacy and control of their personal data (33%), in line with Spain (31%) and comparable with France (26%), Italy (20%) and Japan (18%). Across comparator countries, non-users in the US and China were most likely to be concerned about privacy and control of their personal data (41% and 51% respectively)," it said.

In addition to security and privacy concerns, 28% of UK consumers who said they had never made a mobile payment said that "a lack of necessary features on their phone" was a reason why they had never made such a payment, with 29% of those individuals also pointing to their lack of trust in the technology used to facilitate mobile payments as a further reason for not making a mobile payment.

Ofcom's report also revealed that the UK, together with the rest of Europe, is lagging far behind other parts of the world in terms of the number of mobile internet users who are connected online via '4G' technologies, despite a major increase in availability of 4G services in 2013 compared to 2012.

In the UK and France, just 4% of all mobile connections in 2013 were 4G connections. In Germany the comparative figure was 5% and in Italy and Spain it was just 3%. However, in South Korea, 51% of all mobile connections in 2013 were 4G connections, with the US, Japan, Singapore and Australia all reporting 20% and above comparative figures.

The Ofcom study highlighted, however the continuing consumer shift to consuming online content using mobile devices instead of via laptops and desktop computers, with total mobile internet revenues growing 20% in 2013. The report said that the time spent browsing by UK and US consumers on laptop and desktop computers had "fallen significantly" since 2012.

Consumers in the UK, at nearly £2,000 per person, spend more online per head each year than in any other country in the world, the Ofcom report also found. It also revealed a sharp rise in online TV and video revenues in the UK in 2013, with the market growing by £227 million to £648m. The comparative US market is now worth £5.1 billion, according to the study.

Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive, said: "The internet has never been more important to the lives of people in this country, and the demand for better connections keeps rising. We are making significant progress in this area, as these country comparisons illustrate. However, we all acknowledge that there is more to do, and this will be the challenge for the coming years."