June 3, 2009, 12:00 AM

Only about half of mobile phone owners feel it’s somewhat safe to use them

93% of adults own cell phones, but only 45% think it’s even somewhat safe to use them to make online purchases, a new Harris Interactive survey finds.

More consumers are using web-enabled smartphones today, which is driving more retailers to launch m-commerce sites. Yet some consumers still have reservations about the security of using mobile phones for online purchases, according to a Harris Interactive survey.

The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Billing Revolution, a vendor that enables secure credit card purchasing from web-enabled mobile phones, polled 2,029 adult consumers including 1,883 who own cell phones. According to the survey data, 93% of U.S. adults own a cell phone, and nearly half of this number--45%--consider it at least somewhat safe to make a purchase through their cell phone. 26% consider it fairly safe or very safe to do so.

46% of cell phone owners said that, assuming they could purchase securely through cell phones, they’d be willing to make purchases this way. Of those, 75% said they’d make entertainment purchases. Of those interested in entertainment purchases, 58% said they’d buy movie and event tickets, 41% would buy music, 24% mobile video and TV content and 34% would purchase games.

68% of consumers surveyed also said they’d be willing to use their mobile phones to order food and drink items including pizza, cited by 59%; fast food, 42%; and coffee, 25%.

In other findings, the survey determined that among cell phone owners, men are more likely than women to think it’s safe to make purchases through a cell phone, with 50% of men believing it’s at least somewhat safe compared to 39% of women. Younger cell phone-owning adults also are more likely than their older counterparts to think it’s at least somewhat safe to use cell phones for purchasing-59% of those ages 18-34 compared to 35% of those aged 55 and up.

“There is clearly a large U.S. population of consumers open to the idea of making purchases via their cell phones,” says Andy Kleitsch, CEO of mobile commerce technology vendor Billing Revolution. “With consumers getting more comfortable navigating the web from mobile phones, mobile commerce is posed for explosive growth and consumers are very much leading the charge in this direction.”

Billing Revolution markets a wireless application protocol (WAP) program for merchants that enables secure credit card purchases from a mobile phone. Merchants using the program can take credit card transactions from any web-enabled mobile phone.

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