Study: Mobile Payments Fast, Convenient, but Security Concerns Remain

Consumers are turning to mobile payments options for speed and convenience, though many have concerns about the security of their personal information, according to a new issue brief by the Pew Charitable Trusts. With mobile payments projected to grow by 22 percent annually through 2019, the study analyzed focus group data from respondents in four major U.S. cities to identify attitudes and experiences among both banked smartphone users and nonusers, as well as the unbanked.

Age appeared to correlate with security concerns — smartphone users over the age of 66 were less confident in the security of mobile banking and payment technologies compared to their younger counterparts. Many respondents characterized mobile payments as “reasonably secure, but not completely safe,” but most said they considered mobile payments to be as secure as electronic payments made with their computers.

With respect to information collection and sharing, attitudes were “neutral to negative,” especially when it came to the collection of location-specific information. Many respondents reported discomfort with seeing highly targeted ads, which they assumed to be a product of information gathering.

Despite security concerns, the study pointed out a high level of overall awareness for the mobile options available, suggesting the increased appeal of mobile payments. Apps provided by large companies — such as Apple Pay, Google Wallet, PayPal or Starbucks — were widely thought to be the safest and most secure.

The study also pointed out that for the 9 million unbanked households in the U.S., mobile payment options could become a viable option for those consumers to make transactions and manage their funds in the future, since about one-third have smartphones.