Jumio's Mobile Consumer Habits study is grabbing headlines and laughs for revealing that 9% of U.S. adults admitted to using their smartphones during sex but the survey's other findings have more serious implications for the future of mobile payments.
The poll, commissioned by Palo Alto, Calif.-based mobile technology provider Jumio and conducted by Harris Interactive, showed that 72% of respondents are within five feet of their smartphones the majority of the time. And respondents are concerned about a number of things that could happen if they ever get separated from their devices, including 26% who worry about someone using their mobile payment apps if they lose their phone.
"It was less about out-and-out theft of the phone, but almost like friendly fraud, meaning their phone is lying around at all types of locations at work and at home and who might pick it up and make a mobile payment that they didn't authorize," Marc Barach, Jumio's chief marketing and strategy officer, says in an interview.
The survey also showed that 29% of adults admitted to snooping on someone else's phone. Given the high concerns about theft of personal information or a misplaced phone allowing unauthorized access to mobile payments and social media accounts, 59% of respondents said they keep their phones password-protected. But Barach says that figure should be higher, adding that consumers who don't lock their phones are ripe targets for fraud.
"In general, there's a high degree of awareness and a low degree of compliance with basic security issues that every smartphone and online user should be aware of," he says. "That's what the cybercriminals are feasting on, all of this dangerous behavior that's more rampant on mobile than it is online now."
What does this all mean for developers of mobile payments technology? Mobile payments techniques need to emphasize identity authentication methods from the beginning of the customer relationship, Barach says.
"The source of most crime is at the very beginning of the relationship, where it's based upon a false identity and it's a fraudulent identity on an account or payments device that's being set up for the purpose of fraud," he says.
Jumio's technology integrates into mobile apps and uses the camera on devices to scan and authenticate payment and identification cards. This technology will become more important as mobile wallet functionality expands to include things like personal identification cards, Barach says.
"How do we know that the individual who is signing up to use this functionality is exactly who they say they are? That's where virtual authentication will remove the vast majority of fraudulent behavior because criminals don't like to authenticate," he adds.
The survey highlights myriad places that respondents say they've used their phone, including movie theaters (35%), church (19%) and the shower (12%). And while yes, 9% of all respondents (and 20% of those between the ages of 18 and 34) say they've used their smartphones during sex, 12% of the survey pool says their smartphones get in the way of their romantic relationships.
Given that consumers are willing to take their phones almost anywhere, what will it take to get consumers comfortable with using their devices to make purchases? For starters, Barach says, mobile payments developers should focus on creating a user experience that doesn't involved handing a smartphone to a retail cashier.
"It's a very personal device and it feels a little bit uncomfortable to turn it over to someone else to hold it," he says. "Even just from a germ perspective, people are not wild about doing that. They prefer modes of payment when they don't actually have to physically turn their phone over to someone else."
As consumers grow comfortable with conducting more complex transactions on their smartphones, Barach says it's inevitable that mobile payments will gain ubiquity.
"There has been no device like the smartphone. It's unique in its relationship that we have with it," he says. "We use them, as the survey uncovered, in all walks of life, some of them even kind of embarrassing. And that's just the start of the consumer behavior revolution about how these devices are changing the way we act and interact."