Younger consumers have the keenest interest in banks’ mobile-payments services, but most adults overall still have cold feet when it comes to paying with their phones.

Most consumers use mobile browsers instead of downloadable mobile apps to conduct any mobile-banking activity, and not many are interested in the prospect of emerging mobile digital wallets or paying for such services, Auriemma Consulting Group found in a survey report released March 1.

Despite the “flurry of innovation” driving development of mobile-payment technologies and platforms, compelling reasons are still lacking for consumers to adopt banks’ mobile-payment services, the New York-based firm said.

Until mobile banking and payments offer tangible consumer benefits such as saving time and money and provide a more-secure method for conducting transactions, mainstream consumer adoption is unlikely to materialize, Auriemma concluded.

In its online survey of 504 U.S. debit cardholders conducted in January, Auriemma found that 40% of respondents had a cell phone capable of performing mobile-banking tasks, and 84% of those used their smartphone to bank within the previous year.

Within that period, 75% of respondents with mobile-banking capabilities used their smartphone to check their account balance, 36% paid a bill, 32% received a bank notification, 31% paid by phone and also made a deposit, and 3% transferred funds. Some 17% of respondents said they conducted no mobile payments.

Of those that used any mobile-banking services, 19% used some mobile-banking feature daily; 39% did so once a week, 15% once a month, 23% less than once a month, and 4% didn’t know.

About 40% of consumers who use mobile-banking services do so without downloading a specific mobile-banking application from their bank, the firm’s data suggest.

More than half, or 63% of all respondents said they had not downloaded a mobile-banking app from their bank within the previous year, while 36% had done so and 1% didn’t know.

Younger consumers are more likely than were others to have downloaded a mobile-banking app. The firm’s data show that 43% of respondents younger than 45 had downloaded a mobile app from their bank within the previous year, while only about 22% of those older than 45 had done so.

Some 13% of respondents said they would be willing to pay “a small fee” for a mobile app that delivered discounts to their phones, while 11% each said they would be willing to pay for a mobile wallet or general mobile-banking services. Ten percent said they would be willing to pay a fee for “mobile retail purchases.”

About 35% of all respondents said they would be specifically interested in using a mobile wallet. Of those, 28% each said they would be willing to pay “a small fee” for a mobile app that delivered offers to their phone or for the mobile wallet itself.

Some 21% of those interested in using a mobile wallet said they would pay for mobile-banking services, and 20% said they would pay for “mobile retail purchases.”

Most respondents expressed some discomfort in making purchases with their mobile phones. Among respondents, 47% were very or somewhat uncomfortable, 34% were very or somewhat comfortable, and 19% who were unsure.

Among respondents younger than 45, 48% said they were comfortable making purchases with their mobile phone, compared with 21% of those older than 45 who said so.

The top reason respondents cited for being uncomfortable making purchases with their mobile phone was uncertainty about the technology’s security (58%), identity theft concerns (55%), fear of losing their phone and sensitive data (52%), “not needing a new way to make payments” (43%), distrust of the mobile-payment systems (34%), concern that it “may cost money” (27%), that it “would not save any time” (21%) and they “do not understand it” (15%).

The most compelling reasons respondents cited for being comfortable making purchases with their mobile device were to save time (51%), they “like new technology” (44%), the fact that it “would be free” (41%), it would create an option to rely on a phone instead of a physical wallet (36%), they “understand it” (33%), it would provide greater security (31%), and be a more convenient way to pay (27%).

As the banking industry and other players develop products for banking and shopping with smartphones, “mobile payments are inevitable,” Auriemma said.

But many questions remain unanswered, particularly about what specific features may compel consumers to change their behavior and how banks and merchants may benefit from new approaches.

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