Spending Limits For Mobiles Important

  • 25 percent of smartphone users have used a premium SMS service
  • 38 percent of people receive unwanted premium SMSs
  • Parents want more control over kids’ SMS expenditure

New research by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) into the use of mobile premium services indicates that, while most people are satisfied with the services, many have a strong interest in being able to more easily limit how much they spend.

Over two-thirds of parents think it is either very or extremely important to limit their child’s expenditure on mobile premium services.

"This research is very relevant to our continuing monitoring and assessment of mobile premium services, but is also bridging to the future by indicating the desirability of robust consumer safeguards for future mobile payment mechanisms, particularly the ability to more generally limit expenditure," said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.

The research reveals:

  • A quarter of Australians used at least one mobile premium service, either for a one-off purchase or a subscription service, in the 12 months to April 2010.
  • Only one in ten users of mobile premium services indicated any level of dissatisfaction.
  • Almost two-thirds of respondents reported interest in having greater control over how much they spend on mobile premium services.
  • Parents are particularly interested in ways to manage their children’s expenditure.
  • 38 per cent of users received an unrequested premium SMS or MMS message in the last three months, and nearly a third of these had difficulty stopping the unwanted service.

The ACMA has encouraged mobile carriers to develop arrangements which give mobile customers more control over how much they spend on premium services.

It will also use the research findings to inform discussions about consumer safeguards required for future mobile phone-based payment services.

"Mobile phone-based payments will soon become increasingly common for a wide range of day-to-day purchases. The ACMA is leading consideration of appropriate consumer safeguards for the next generation of mobile phone-based payments, by shining a light on the needs, expectations and behaviours of consumers in this increasingly complex space," said Chapman.