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MEF Smartphone Owner Use Digital Services Jun2020Alongside an overall increase in smartphone users’ digital activity, some 48% of mobile users accessed mobile banking in 2019, representing a significant increase year-over-year (y-o-y). Despite this rise in activity, identified by a recent global study [download page, membership required for full report] by the Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF), some privacy concerns remain that may be holding consumers back from turning to digital services.

Smartphone Users Up Their Use of Various Services

In 2019, the majority (54%) of smartphone users surveyed accessed digital content such as film or music, making this the most-used digital service of those identified. Just under half (48%) ordered a product from a mobile site or app as comfort with mobile commerce continues to grow, and an equal share accessed banking services via a mobile site or app. The latter saw the biggest change y-o-y, increasing by 7 percentage points among consistent markets.

Indeed, financial services generally made strides, with the percentage of respondents who paid for something using a mobile or digital wallet increasing 5 percentage points to 37%. This is a trend highlighted by prior research from GfK, which revealed that almost half of younger consumers in the US prefer to make payments via mobile, finding it to be an easier method of payment.

More emerging activities that saw little change y-o-y include using a medical or fitness service or app (25%) or controlling a smart device (20%).

Privacy Remains a Cause for Concern

Nonetheless, some mobile users appear to be held back from increasing their digital activity by privacy concerns. A mere 13% of respondents claimed to trust mobile operators with their data, and this low result hasn’t improved since the previous year’s survey. Respondents from the US (8%) were the least trusting of mobile operators with their data out of all countries surveyed.

Ultimately, consumers trust themselves the most. When asked who they trust to manage their personal data, respondents cited themselves by a large margin, followed by banks/credit card companies, and doctors/hospitals. Interestingly, despite mobile operators’ low trust score, they are more trusted than insurance companies, internet companies, social networks and online stores.

Smartphone users are becoming more concerned about privacy and security in general, with some 7 in 10 (71%) respondents rating this as very important to them. This is with good reason, as only 23% of mobile users reported that they or someone close to them had not experienced some kind of fraud incident. Text fraud, or a text message trying to steal data, was the most common experience of fraud, as cited by one-quarter of respondents.

An executive summary of the report can be downloaded here.

About the Data: Findings are based on a Q4 2019 survey of 6,500 smartphone users in Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, South Africa, Spain, UK and US.

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