Consumers Wary of Mobile Wallet Apps

It seems hard to believe that when electric lights first became a widespread household improvement, some people were scared off by the technology. Wires full of electric current? Not in my house! I’ll stick to my nice safe glass pillar of burning kerosene, thank you very much!

That’s a funny historical correlation, but it’s how a significant number of consumers have responded to the “newfangled” concept of mobile wallets and payment apps. In a recent survey of tech users who have still not opted to set up a mobile wallet in their smartphones, 67% cited concern over the security of the app as a deciding factor, while another 47% agreed with the statement that they just didn’t trust the technology yet.

And given the record-setting numbers of data breaches consumers have endured almost every year, it’s not hard to understand why they might feel reluctant. In fact, less than 24% of Apple’s customers who have an Apple Pay-enabled device have tried out the app due to security concerns. What is interesting, though, is that they’re putting their trust in that burning kerosene—in this case, cash that can be lost or the easily hacked magnetic stripe technology that powers a physical credit card—rather than an app.

At the same time, those two trust-based survey questions were only part of the equation. Eighty percent of the respondents indicated that using cash or a credit card was simply easier, while 22% said the places they shop don’t accept mobile payments yet. Another 36% of the respondents had the most telling answer of all: my phone just doesn’t have that feature.

While mobile payment apps are still a fairly new idea and only a limited number of merchants are able to accept payments from your phone at this time, there are a few benefits to the technology.

The first, depending on your phone’s manufacturer, is that the merchant never gets your credit card number. That can offer you a lot of peace of mind when the next major retail data breach rolls around. If you’re looking for yet another layer of security, you can also choose to designate a brand-new credit card with a very low limit as your mobile payment card; by using it only as a mobile option and never carrying the physical card with you, you’re not tying all of your financial accounts to your handheld device. Finally, a number of consumers have already recognized the behavioral shift in what they carry. Their wallets could easily be lost or stolen, but they’re accustomed to protecting a mobile device that cost them hundreds of dollars and has so many other parts of their lives locked inside.


Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.

Read next: How Data Breaches Affect Your Identity

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