Survey Says Consumers Worry About Mobile Wallet Security. But Does That Matter?

Written by Frank Hayes
February 4th, 2013

A ComScore survey released on Monday (Feb. 4) reminded us why we hate it when surveys don’t give us context. The topic was digital wallets, and among other not-very-surprising tidbits (48 percent of smartphone users surveyed have used PayPal, six times as many as runner-up Google Wallet) was something we’ve heard often enough: 47 percent say they’re concerned about “security/safety/theft/loss of phone” with digital wallets. To its credit, the ComScore report on the survey does point out that consumers don’t seem to understand the added security that digital wallets provide. (A real surprise: 29 percent say they have no mobile-wallet concerns.)

But we never see surveys that ask consumers “What concerns, if any, do you have about using a plastic credit or debit card to make purchases?” What percentage would say they’re worried about losing the card or having their wallet stolen? Without that, we don’t know if a question about mobile wallets means anything at all. If most consumers do fret about the risk of a stolen magstripe card but use it anyway, that’s clearly not what’s holding back mobile payments. Our theory: Consumers don’t actually care about security at all. Now will somebody please deliver numbers to prove us wrong?


2 Comments | Read Survey Says Consumers Worry About Mobile Wallet Security. But Does That Matter?

  1. Jim Van Dyke Says:

    Great post! I am forwarding this to our research team.

    We research payment security. A lot. Since 2002.

    Sorry to tell you this, but data consistently say that consumers care about security. A lot. Since forever.

    So if consumers care so much about security, why do they sometimes say one thing, and then do another? (Like use unprotected computers, over-share online, buy from an unsecure wi-fi connection, etc.). The answer is actually at once simple and complex: we fail to make it simple for consumers to understand (or act on) the connection between a recommendation and a safer state of being.

    There is so much security advice out there, and most of is either confusing or impossible.

    All people act rationally in their own mind.

  2. Evan Schuman Says:

    Jim wrote: “data consistently say that consumers care about security.” I respectfully disagree. Consumers TELL surveys that they care (that is absolutely consistent) but we determine care by consumer actions. We conclude they care about price when we see them purchase more as prices drop. As for security, every single time–I wish we could say “mostly” but we have yet to find a counter-example–that there has been a major retail data breach disclosed, we have found zero drop in sales attributable to that data breach disclosure. When the Justice Department said there was such a correlation, TJX lawyers felt the need to file a note to the court that there had been none.
    Much of this is due to zero liability programs. Regardless of the reasons, though, the evidence of what shoppers actually do–versus what they say–has been consistent. They purchase based on price, quality and convenience. The very public disclosure of security problems at stores has never impacted U.S. consumers. (Physical security–such as violence–has caused sales drops, as consumers temporarily shop elsewhere. But data breaches? We have yet to see any evidence of that.)


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