Are You Afraid to Buy These 3 Things From Your Smartphone?

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

If you’re like most Americans, your smartphone is almost like an extension of you. Around three out of four of us even bring our smartphones into the bathroom. Not only does this roughly 4- to 5-inch device serve as our entertainment while we’re waiting in a doctor’s office or in-between meetings, it’s also what we use to email, video chat, social network, bank, and make purchases.

Buying things has never been more convenient than it is today. Most of the retail giants have mobile sites or apps that allow mobile consumers to make purchases quickly and easily.

So, if you’re looking to buy a new TV, you can research various models, find consumer ratings, shop around for the best prices, and make your purchase right from your mobile device. And, a lot of consumers are choosing to go this route. Some even use their smartphones to price compare while they’re in stores and out and about shopping.

Data published by the research website Statista indicate that in 2013, 75% of smartphone owners used their devices to browse, research, compare products, and make purchases. By 2018, 86% of smartphone users will shop with their devices.

But, is there a limit for consumers when it comes to their smartphone purchases? Are there certain things we won’t buy from a mobile device?

A recent report by Bankrate indicates that we may be a bit weary of making certain purchases from our phones, namely, major purchases or major financial commitments. Here are a few examples of the types of purchases and commitments that consumers are a little iffy about:

  1. Buying a car
  2. Getting a mortgage
  3. Buying stocks or insurance

Only 12% of people said that they conduct this type of business from their smartphones with any sort of regularity. Those between the ages of 30 and 49, seem to be the most comfortable with making these types of purchases from a mobile device, as 58% of respondents in this age group said they had made a large purchase using their phone on at least one occasion. This (58%) is much higher than in any of the other age groups.

What are we so worried about?

Security is the number one reason respondents cited for shying away from making these types of purchases using a mobile device. (Click on the graph for a larger version.)

major financial purchases final

graphic by Erika Rawes//data from Bankrate

Close to half of consumers (41%) said they don’t makes these purchases via smartphone for fear that their information could end up being misused or abused. Those in the older age groups (65 and older) are far more likely to have these concerns than millenials (34%).

And, according to the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), these concerns may not be completely unfounded. When you enter sensitive information into a mobile device, it’s not as safe as it would be to fill out this information in person, or even on a desktop computer, says Susan Grant, CFA’s director of consumer protection, in the Bankrate report. As time goes on, these security concerns will need to be addressed as we move forward into a more and more mobile world.

Ease of use was the second most common reason that people say they don’t want to make these major purchases and commitments using phones. Why make a such a huge decision on only a tiny screen? And, on a website or app with limited capability? You could go onto your desktop computer and have a clearer, easier to read, and full website to work with.

For right now, the convenienceĀ of conducting this type of business over-the-phone comes with too many associated costs. But as technology evolves, this could very well change in the very near future.

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