LONDON (Reuters) - PayPal, the eBay-owned online payment system, could be set for a major boost as mobile payment systems start to take off over the next year, a survey by market research firm GfK suggests.
GfK found that PayPal was the brand most likely to be trusted with personal financial data by consumers in nine major markets around the world, in a survey published on Thursday (r.reuters.com/puf59r).
Credit-card brands Visa and MasterCard were the next most likely global brands to be trusted, followed by Apple -- which already handles account data through the iTunes store -- Nokia
Mobile operators, which have been hoping to diversify their increasingly commoditized revenues through NFC, came far down the list.
"When we think of trust or security, we probably default to a brand that's been around for a long time. In this case, people have put their trust in a very new company," GfK analyst and report author Ryan Garner told Reuters.
A hacker attack on Sony last month that compromised the personal data of more than 100 million users showed how trust in even the most established brands can quickly evaporate.
"Whilst financial brands have built up high levels of trust, mobile-based brands such as Nokia and Apple, and relatively new financial brands like PayPal, have the potential to disrupt this seemingly comfortable position," GfK said.
Paying for small items like newspapers or a coffee by touching a mobile phone against an NFC (near field communications) reader has been technologically possible for many years.
But a reluctance to invest in the necessary infrastructure has prevented a market from developing in mature economies as banks, telcos, phone makers and software makers have tussled over ownership of the customer.
This year, however, a slew of NFC-enabled smartphones based on Google's latest Android platform is due to hit the market. Research in Motion's new Bold BlackBerry, due to go on sale this summer, will also be equipped with NFC.
At least one in five smartphones will have an NFC chip by 2014, adding up to almost 300 million NFC-capable smartphones by 2014, according to a new forecast by telecoms analysis firm Juniper Research.
Meantime, mobile operators are gearing up to launch mobile payment services after years of trials.
Telefonica's O2 is about to apply for a banking license in Britain, while in Spain Telefonica recently signed a deal to collaborate on NFC technology with Orange and Vodafone.
Key retailers in Britain including Tesco, the Co-op and fast-food chain McDonald's also are expected to install contactless payment terminals soon.
GfK carried out its online survey of 8,603 consumers in Britain, the United States, Germany, France, Spain, Brazil, China, Italy and South Korea -- which it used as a benchmark because mobile payments have been used there for many years.
Chinese consumers were keenest to start using mobile payment services, with 82 percent saying they found the idea appealing. Brazil followed, with 73 percent, while the French were the least keen, with just 42 percent finding it appealing.
South Korea, the benchmark for the survey, had 72 percent.
In regions like western Europe and the United States, mobile payments are a harder sell because financial systems are well established and shopping in stores is already fairly convenient, with many accepting debit and credit cards as well as cash.
In parts of sub-Saharan Africa and southeast Asia, where many people have no bank account, mobile payments using simpler technology than NFC have proven very popular.
Editing by Carol Bishopric and Sophie Walker