Many Americans Uncomfortable With Advanced Mobile Capabilities

harris-comfort-with-mobile-phone-capabilities-march2012.jpgMany Americans are uncomfortable scanning a mobile or smartphone for a variety of items, according to a Harris Interactive survey released in March 2012. 63% are uncomfortable using a mobile application that would store their credit card information and allow them to make purchases at a retailer or company as they would with a credit card. In fact, 45% are not at all comfortable with this option, compared to just 24% who express some comfort.

Security concerns may be a hindrance: according to an Oracle survey released in December 2011, one-quarter of smartphone owners worry that someone will steal their payment information if they use their mobile phone to pay in stores.

The Harris survey respondents display a similar aversion to other mobile capabilities, although to a lesser extent. They are 20.5% more likely to say they are uncomfortable than comfortable with using a mobile app that allows them to make purchases at a retailer or company as they would use a gift card (47% vs. 39%) and 5% more likely to say they are uncomfortable using a mobile scan as an airline, train, or other transportation ticket (43% vs. 41%). The only area in which they are more likely to be comfortable is in using a mobile scan as an admission ticket to movies, concerts, or live theater performances (47% vs. 38%).

Youth, Men More Open to Scanning

Breaking down the data by age groups, the Harris survey finds a consistent trend towards a greater acceptance of these mobile capabilities among younger adults. Echo boomers (aged 18-35) are 25% more likely than the general average to be comfortable using a mobile scan as an admission ticket (59% vs. 42%), 27% more likely to be open to using a mobile scan as an transportation ticket (52% vs. 41%), 23% more likely to be happy to use a mobile app to make purchases like they would a gift card (48% vs. 39%), and 33% more likely to be open to using a mobile app to make purchases like they would a credit card (32% vs. 24%). While 36-47-year-olds are more or less around the average for all uses, baby boomers (aged 48-66) and in particular mature (over 66) are far less likely than the general average to be comfortable with these capabilities.

Men are more likely than women to be comfortable with all these mobile scanning possibilities, with the biggest discrepancy being for use of a mobile app to store credit card information and make purchases at a retailer as they would a credit card (29% vs. 19%).

Few Have Actually Scanned Mobile For Items

Data from the Harris survey indicates that although level of comfort with these capabilities are low, they exceed actual usage. In fact, just 3% have ever scanned their mobile or smartphone to pay for a purchase, for admission to a concert or other performance, or to pay for a convenience item. Only 5% have used their device for admission to a movie or as an airline ticket, and just 7% have scanned something else. Although the proportion of adults having scanned their mobile as an airline ticket is very low, Juniper Research predicted in March 2011 that the number of mobile barcoded boarding passes issued by the global airline industry would grow from 280 million to 480 million in 2013.

Meanwhile, as with comfort levels, actual use of scanning is higher among echo boomers on all counts save for scanning of an item not listed by the survey. Overall, 40% of the respondents have never scanned their mobile or smartphone for any reason, while 45% said they do not have a device with that capability.

About the Data: The Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between February 6 and 13, 2012 among 2,056 adults (aged 18 and over).