Canadians unsophisticated cellphone users: KPMG

Canadians are behind the rest of the world in using their mobile phones for banking and for making purchases, according to a new report from KPMG.

Canadians are behind the rest of the world in using their mobile phones for banking and for making purchases, according to a new report from KPMG.

Only about 19 per cent of Canadians surveyed said they felt comfortable using their mobile phone for financial transactions, compared with a global average of 34 per cent, suggests the professional services firm's Consumer & Convergence IV report, released Wednesday.

About eight per cent of Canadian respondents said they have made purchases on a retailer's website using their phone, which was double the amount from last year, KPMG said, but still well behind the world average of 28 per cent.

Only 15 per cent have banked through their phones, a third of the survey's global average.

"These consumer concerns over privacy and security are pivotal to the continued adoption of e-commerce and mobile commerce," said Brendan Maher, national industry leader of KPMG's information, communications and entertainment practice, in a statement.

"Companies that implement robust policies and safeguards and provide for full disclosure of these measures are likely to reap the rewards through enhanced customer attraction and retention."

Numbers higher in Asia

The numbers are dramatically different in Asian nations. About 77 per cent of respondents in China said they have used their mobile phones for banking, while 44 per cent used them for retail transactions. In India, the percentages are 43 and 38, respectively.

KPMG surveyed 5,627 cellphone users in 22 countries, including 300 in Canada, during the spring of 2010 to put its study together. Respondents were surveyed online, except for those in Slovakia and the Czech republic, who were surveyed by telephone. The Canadian results have a margin of error of plus or minus 5.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The survey also suggests that Canadians are averse to paying for access to content on their mobile devices, and that they generally don't like advertising on their phones. About 85 per cent of Canadians were not willing to pay for access to site content on their mobile phone, compared to 57 per cent globally.

The results jibe with overall Canadian mobile phone adoption. Canada ranks dead last in the developed world in mobile penetration — or the number of subscriptions to wireless services as a percentage of the population — with 69 per cent. The average among peer nations, according to a recent Bank of America Merrill Lynch report, was 109 per cent.

Canadians also lagged the rest of the developed world in the same report in using their phones for anything besides talking, with only about 24 per cent of their monthly bill coming from data services, compared to the average of 32 per cent.

Several executives at search giant Google have also said recently that despite having a high level of computer and internet literacy, Canadian businesses are relatively unsophisticated in how they are using the web.