Mobile Payments Bring Consumer Fears: Pew
Consumers, including the unbanked, are interested in mobile payments for speed and convenience.
However, they also have concerns about personal information security, according to a study from the Philadelphia-based Pew Charitable Trusts.
The study, “Is This the Future of Banking?,” was based on focus groups organized by Pew in May 2015 with smartphone owners who have bank accounts but have not tried mobile payments, those who have bank accounts and have used mobile payments, and those who do not have a bank account (the unbanked).
The study found mobile payments are used most frequently for online shopping and fund transfers. Users cited convenience and speed as reasons for adopting the technology.
In addition, all groups had a relatively high awareness of major mobile payments brands. This allowed consumers to make mobile purchases at a variety of online and brick and mortar retailers through services such as PayPal, Apple Pay and Google Wallet, and to buy beverages at Starbucks. With more than 16 million active users, Pew named Starbucks as the most popular mobile payment app.
When it comes to the collection of personal data, the study cited several barriers to using mobile payments, including a lack of perceived personal benefit as well as discomfort with some industry practices, particularly those regarding security.
Study participants were generally unaware of information collection practices, how the data gets used and the potential for a data compromise. Many seemed resigned to the trade-off between the use of the technology and collection of personal information. They also indicated a preference for data collection regulations.
Other findings from the report included:
- Younger smartphone owners with bank accounts used mobile banking more regularly than consumers over the age of 66. Those who had adopted mobile banking used it to pay bills, transfer funds, and in some cases, deposit checks.
- Mobile payments were most frequently used for online shopping and funds transfers.
- Nonusers found potential incentives – cash back, reward points, discounts, coupons and free items – enticing.
Pew also noted mobile payments are a viable option for unbanked consumers looking to complete transactions and manage their funds. The technology could also offer a more convenient and potentially cheaper way for all Americans to manage their money.
“Our conversations with consumers demonstrated the potential of mobile payments but also the barriers that will need to be overcome if this potential is to be fully realized,” Susan Weinstock, director of Pew’s consumer banking project, said. “Moreover, mobile payments technology could provide an accessible channel to the unbanked for their financial services. Nearly 10 million adults are unbanked, but about a third of them have a smartphone.”
Mobile banking offers the unbanked a realistic method for expanding economic inclusion, according to the Rockville, Md.-based market research publisher Packaged Facts in a report, “Unbanked and Underbanked Consumers in the U.S., 4th Edition.”
"Mobile financial services can provide account information from virtually any location, at any time,” David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts, said. “Along with this information, they can provide tools consumers can use to manage their finances, conduct transactions and avoid potential problems such as overdrafts, late fees and fraud. As a result, this technology has the potential to make banking relationships more convenient and sustainable for households that otherwise may experience such concerns.”
The FDIC reported nearly 8% of U.S. households, approximately 9.6 million, lack bank accounts, but 33% of them have access to smartphones.
According to the Federal Reserve, 69% of the unbanked have access to a mobile phone, approximately half of which are smartphones, and 88% of the underbanked have access to a mobile phone, 64% of which are smartphones.