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One in four cellular phone users with mobile internet access now use their devices to buy goods and services online, with nearly one in five saying they would like to someday use cell phones as a “mobile wallet,” finds a Harris Interactive study.

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Other findings:

  • Smartphone or iPhone users are more likely to “occasionally” use their device to make purchases – 25% said so, compared with 17% of mobile or cellular phone users.
  • 77% of mobile users have “never” made a purchase with their device,?compared with?65% of those with smartphones or iPhones.

Mobile Applications

Some 16% of mobile phone subscribers already use mobile banking services, and 60% of them use the services at least once a week, the study found.

Consumers not currently banking or buying on-the-go expressed interest in having such applications on their mobile phones:

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  • Checking bank account balances/transfer funds (35% selected this app)
  • Receiving text message alerts from financial institutions (33%)
  • Shopping (16%)
  • Making wire transfers and stock-trading (9% each)

“Today’s mobile devices are the springboard for a whole raft of services, with huge pent-up demand for mobile commerce capabilities,” said Joseph Porus, vice-president, Harris Interactive.

“If security concerns can be quelled, the sky’s the limit with consumer acceptance of mobile banking and purchase transactions. It’s a very intriguing prospect for the near future, considering how people have already embraced a variety of mobile technologies beyond simple phone communications.”

Barriers

Anxiety about sharing personal data is the biggest barrier to consumer acceptance of mobile banking and commerce, with two-thirds (66%) of respondents saying so:

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Additional barriers to adoption:

  • More exposure to fraud and financial scams (63% expressed concern)
  • Worry about losing a device containing valuable information (61%)
  • Concern about costs (58%):
    • 17% are “extremely concerned” about the current cost of non-commercial transactions (e.g., sending an SMS, MMS, viewing a web page).
    • 16% are “very concerned” about such costs.

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  • Usability (43%), reliability (37%), and speed of wireless network (23%)

“While the survey indicates people have concerns associated with using mobile devices for financial transactions, it’s similar to the evolution of the internet as a viable tool for banking and buying,” Porus said. “We expect mobile technology to only improve and become even more secure in the coming years. This should ease people’s fears and make mobile commerce appealing in the future.”

About the survey: The Harris Interactive 2008 Winter Technology Report was conducted online in Dec. ’07 among 1,072 US adults ages 18 and over. The data were weighted to reflect the US population.

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