Press release:

1 in 4 consumers fear Apple Pay will make their spending spiral

  • A quarter of people say they will spend more money (24%)[1] or make more impulse purchases (25%)[2] if they use their phone rather than cash or card to pay
  • The ability to check their balance (57%) and a cap on ‘tap and go’ payments (38%) could help consumers curb their spending[3]
  • More than half (56%) are worried about the new technology – with fears over security top of the list of concerns (45%)[4]
  • The end isn’t quite nigh for cash and credit cards – six in ten consumers (57%) say they aren’t comfortable using their phone to pay[5]. 

Ahead of Apple Pay launching in the UK next month, new research from uSwitch.com, the price comparison and switching service, reveals that the new technology could see consumers’ spending habits spiralling out of control. While the technology is welcomed by those hoping for a simpler, easier and faster way of paying, a quarter of people fear that using their phone instead of cards and cash will see them spend more (24%)[1] and make more impulse purchases (25%)[2].

The simplicity of paying with your mobile phone is welcome, but it seems consumers are after extra features to help them keep a handle on their spending, such as the ability to check their balance (57%) and a cap on ‘tap and go’ payments (38%) being part of mobile payments. One in ten consumers would like limits on when and where they can use mobile phone payments – such as the time of day (10%) and in pubs and clubs (12%). Worryingly though, a quarter (25%) fear no other tools will help them stay in control of their finances[3].

Considering the size and brand power behind Apple, it’s not surprising that a quarter (26%) say they’d feel more comfortable about using mobile payments with the Californian giant behind the technology[6].

But, despite the power of the brand, it doesn’t seem that even Apple Pay will be the final nail in the coffin for old-fashioned cash – almost six in ten consumers (57%) aren’t comfortable with using their mobile phone to pay for goods or services[5]. And despite the fact that – in theory – Apple Pay is a safer way of paying than cash and cards, fears over the technology’s security (45%) are still topping the list of concerns[4].

Nicolas Frankcom, money expert at uSwitch.com, says: “It’s great to see people being given more options on how to pay.  This is a clear case of how technology can make peoples’ lives easier. If they can use these tools to help keep track of their money, that’s an added bonus.

“However, using your mobile to pay could be a double edged sword. If paying with your phone is so simple that we don’t think about whether or not we can afford it, it could lead to debt problems. New technology should be welcomed, but it’s equally important that consumers use it to help them take control of their finances, not lose it.”

— ends —

Notes to editors

Research carried out online with the uSwitch.com Consumer Opinion Panel in February 2015 amongst a sample of 1,248 GB adults.

  1. When asked “Do you believe you will be tempted to spend more money if you pay for goods using just your phone i.e because you have no need to take cash out of your wallet/ purse, enter your pin into a chip and pin reader?” 6.0% said ‘Yes – I believe I will spend considerably more than if I used cash or card’; 9.4% said ‘yes – I believe I will spend a bit more money than if I used cash or card’; 8.9% said ‘yes – I believe I will that sometimes I’ll spend more money than if I used cash or card’. In total, 24.3% said ‘yes’.
  2. When asked “Do you agree with the following statement ‘I believe I will make more impulse purchases if I paid for goods using just my phone’” 6.1% said ‘agree strongly’; 19.1% said ‘agree’
  3. When asked “Which of the following would you welcome to help ensure you stay in control of your finances when paying for goods using your mobile phone?” 37.5% said ‘a compulsory cap on the amount I can spend on tap and go payments’; 57.1% said ‘the ability to check my balance at the point of purchase’; 9.7% said ‘voluntary restrictions on when I am able to make a purchase e.g early hours of the morning’; 12.4% said ‘restrictions on where I can use my phone to pay e.g pubs and clubs, certain clothes shops’; 24.6% said ‘I don’t think restrictions or caps will help me stay in control of my finances’.
  4. When asked “Considering that you will soon be able to pay got goods using just your mobile phone, which of the following best applies to you?” 44.9% said ‘apprehensive – concerned about security and fraud’; 4.6% said ‘worried – I’m nervous that I will spend more money than if I used cards or cash’; 6.2% said ‘nervous – I like using cash and I’m concerned this will die out’. In total, 55.7% are apprehensive, worried or nervous.
  5. When asked “Would you feel comfortable paying for goods and services with your mobile phone?” 43.1% said ‘yes’; 56.9% said ‘no’.
  6. When asked “Do you think that you’d be more comfortable paying for good via your mobile if Apple was behind the technology?’ 25.7% said ‘I’d feel more comfortable making mobile payments if Apple was behind the technology’; 8.9 % said ‘I’d feel less comfortable making mobile payments if Apple was behind the technology’.

About us

Launched in September 2000, uSwitch is an online and telephone price comparison and switching service, helping consumers get a better deal on gas, electricity, broadband, TV services, mobiles and personal finance products including mortgages, credit cards, car and home insurance. Last year we saved UK consumers over £278 million on their energy bills alone.

Customers can sign up to an account that automatically monitors the energy market and notifies them when they can move to a cheaper tariff, while broadband customers can conduct a speed test to find out how fast their broadband is and identify the best deal for their postcode.

The multi award-winning 'Switching Made Simple' app allows customers to compare energy, broadband, credit card, mobile and SIM-only deals – and uSwitch also has a UK contact centre manned by energy and broadband experts. Customers can post their latest energy bills to FREEPOST USWITCH to receive a free call back and be guided through the comparison process, or they can email customerservices@uswitch.com with their postcode and usage details.

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