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Survey: Young more eager to pay via mobile phone

A MasterCard poll finds that 63 percent of those 18 to 34 years old would be comfortable paying for items using their cell phones, compared with 37 percent of those 35 and older.

The mobile and banking industries have been all abuzz lately about offering consumers the ability to pay for items through their cell phones. But how do consumers actually feel about this?

Survey results released yesterday by MasterCard tried to gauge how comfortable people would be using their cell phones to pay for items on the go at stores, restaurants, and other retail outlets. And like many surveys focused on new technologies, this one showed a fairly big gap in feelings between the young and the not-as-young.

Among those 18 to 34 years old, 63 percent said they would be at ease using their mobile phones to make purchases. But among those 35 and older, only 37 percent expressed the same level of comfort.

Younger people feel much more dependent on their cell phones in general, the survey found. About 65 percent of those in the 18 to 34 range said they'd feel more naked without their phones than their wallets, compared with only 34 percent of those 35 and older who said the same thing.

Kelton Research, which polled 1,000 people, conducted the survey between April 15 and April 22 through an e-mail invitation and online survey.

Looking at other results of the survey, more men (51 percent) than women (40 percent) would be comfortable using their phones to make a mobile payment. Slightly more men (49 percent) than women (45 percent) would be impressed by someone who used their cell phone rather than a credit card to pay for something. Yet women (50 percent) more than men (36 percent) feel more exposed without their cell phones than their wallets.

But as always, security is a major concern. Almost 62 percent of those polled said they'd need to be sure that their personal information was safe in order to make a purchase through their mobile phones.

Mobile phone makers, wireless carriers, and financial companies have all been busy trying to ramp up the mobile payments technology of near-field communications, or NFC. With the necessary NFC hardware and credit card information stored on their phones, consumers would be able to pay for items and services by touching or passing over other equipped phones as well as NFC-enabled registers and terminals. The technology is seen as the next step beyond existing contactless mobile payment systems such as Visa's PayWave and MasterCard's PayPass.