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Summary:

For companies trying to convince customers that mobile payments are a viable alternative to options like cash and credit cards, the iPhone could be key. A new mobile device study reveals that iPhone owners are the most open to the prospect of paying with their devices.

The Square dongle lets you accept credit card payments on your iPhone with the companion application.

For companies trying to convince customers that mobile payments are a viable alternative to traditional payment options such as cash and credit cards, the iPhone could be key. A new U.K. study released on Monday by British research and consulting firm YouGov reveals that among mobile device users, iPhone owners are most open to the prospect of paying with their devices, as well as using their phones for all kinds of mobile banking activities.

U.K. adults in general displayed little willingness to jump on the mobile payments bandwagon, according to the YouGov survey, which was commissioned by digital banking company Intelligent Environments. Of those surveyed, 21 percent would pay bills through a mobile device; 25 percent would transfer funds; 36 percent would check their bank account balances; 17 percent would pay other people for goods and services (like you can already do using Square in the U.S.); and 13 percent would make contactless payments (via near field communication, or NFC, for example).

The Square dongle lets you accept credit card payments on your iPhone with the companion application.

Users of Apple iPhones showed much higher interest in all areas, however. Almost half — at 46 percent — indicated they would pay bills using their devices; 62 percent would transfer funds; 69 percent would check account balances; 45 percent would make payments to other people; and 31 percent would make contactless payments.

Other smartphone users, including those who have Android and BlackBerry devices, also show stronger interest in making mobile payments than their feature phone-toting counterparts, but Apple is still well ahead of the curve. Age also plays a role, with 18-24 year olds most interested in mobile banking services being available on their devices.

As my colleague Ryan Kim has noted on multiple occasions, the biggest challenge facing companies hoping to make money from mobile payments is user adoption. People are slow to adapt to change when it comes to money matters, because the perceived risk of fraud tends to be much higher with new technology that hasn’t yet seen wide use. Any advantage in overcoming such perceptions is a boon to mobile payments operators, and, if this study is accurate, iPhone users seem to have a built-in resistance to negative preconceptions.

While the jury is still out on whether Apple will include NFC in its next-generation iPhone, that doesn’t mean companies in the space can’t take advantage of it for mobile payments. An NFC-enabled SIM card is in the works that could give carriers a leg up in pioneering iPhone mobile payment solutions, and other options are also available.

  1. The key to safety and fraud limitation is this: Keep a separate card or account for your mobile payments. In this account only keep a credit limit or balance of a couple of thousand dollars. This way if something happens the max outlay or liability is low. The comps could also charge a real low insurance rate like a dollar a month for protection up to $3000. And they could have a prearranged payments for larger payments where you let the comp know in advance there will be a larger purchase at retailer x. Say for any purchases over $1,000.

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