Australians are more connected to their smartphones than ever but they still don’t use their devices to buy things, according to Deloitte’s Australian Mobile Consumer Survey 2016.

Australian mobile consumers interact with their smartphone 480 million times a day – that’s a 40 million increase over last year’s survey. At the time the survey was taken, only 9 per cent of Australians use their mobile for payments, either through Near Field Communication (NFC), or purchasing through apps and browsers.

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According to Deloitte, the primary reasons Australians are not yet engaging mobile payment are perceived lack of security and lack of benefits. Both of these perceived barriers have come down over the last year, with lack of security reducing from 44 per cent in 2015 to 36 per cent in 2016 and lack of benefits from 41 per cent in 2015 to 35 per cent in 2016.

The survey reveals that, although apps are the preferred channel for most of our smartphone related ‘entertainment’, the browser is preferred for online shopping, with 71 per cent preferring to use their smartphone browser versus an app.

Biometrics may have a role to play in making mobile purchases easier as a form of identity verification, as more using fingerprint scanners becomes a daily habit for smartphone users. According to the survey, Australians make an estimated 100 million imprints a day using smartphone fingerprint scanners.

“Initially we have seen fingerprints being used as a faster alternative to a numeric password to unlock phones, but this has now extended to unlock applications, and authorise payments for online content from an app store,” said Stuart Johnston, Partner and the leader of Deloitte’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) group.

“Biometrics and smartphone adoption may provide us with an alternative to having to remember, or even write down, the multitude of passwords required by our growing online accounts, which can be relatively insecure.”

“By 2020, Deloitte forecasts that users may have as many as 200 online accounts, each requiring secure controls over access. Biometrics and our smartphone can provide a simple, convenient and quick single tap solution to this challenge.”

The survey shows that awareness of fingerprint biometrics is greater with Apple iPhone 6 users (81 per cent), compared to Android smartphone users (49 per cent).

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“Over the next few years we expect usage of fingerprint readers to increase markedly as they are incorporated into mid-range smartphone models and users become more comfortable with the authentication process,” Johnston said.

Other key insights from the report include:

  • Australian smartphone ownership has climbed to 84 per cent of Australians, ahead of the global average (81 per cent) and up from 79 per cent last year. Australians aged 18 to 24 have the highest level of ownership with 94 per cent having access to at least one smartphone.
  • IoT hype hasn’t translated into consumer reality. “Connected entertainment devices remain the driving factor to what is still a rather embryonic IoT market in Australia. We are not yet seeing consumers buy-in to or take advantage of the multitude of connected home devices available on the market (for a number of years now).”
  • Over three quarters of Australians are now on a 4G network which has both fuelled and helped to surge our collective and continuous data appetite.
  • Calls are becoming less popular, 30 per cent of mobile consumers do not regularly use their phone to make a voice call. However a rise in data-based communication channels enabled by our smartphone including text messages, emails, instant messaging and video call, mean we are communicating more than ever.
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