Most Chinese consumers comfortable letting IoT devices shop for them

Just 18 percent of consumers in China are uneasy about devices that place orders on their behalf without prior consent, compared to 39 percent of Australians and 55 percent in Singapore who want to first approve the purchase.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Some 61 percent of consumers in China say they are fine with letting a device place an order on their behalf, without first seeking consent.

That figure was second-highest in a global survey conducted by payment processing vendor, Worldpay, which polled 20,212 respondents across 10 markets worldwide, including 6,043 in Singapore, China, and Australia. At 81 percent, Brazilians were most comfortable with letting devices shop on their behalf without permission.

The Worldpay study sought to assess consumers' level of comfort with payments made via connected or Internet of Things (IoT) devices, such as smart appliances, drones, and virtual assistants.

It revealed that just 18 percent of Chinese consumers were uneasy about letting a device shop on their behalf without prior consent, while 39 percent in Australia expressed similar views. Across the three Asian markets, privacy and security breaches were top concerns for letting devices do so. More than 70 percent of respondents in each country were concerned device manufacturers would share their personal data, and the same percentage also were worried the connected devices would be hacked.

In addition, 55 percent of Singapore respondents wanted the option to approve a purchase before the device was permitted to place the order. Some 50 percent Australians would want established rules stipulating what IoT devices could buy, and when, while 18 percent rejected the idea of letting these devices do so under any circumstances.

Phil Pomford, Worldpay's Asia-Pacific general manager, said: "No matter if done by a human or machine, it is vital for consumers to remain in control when they're delegating payment tasks. Our research has found that there should always be a conscious 'act of consent'--be that via a device notification, button press, or a preset rule like a spending limit, being agreed in advance."

The report further noted that the region's ICT infrastructures and government support, such as Singapore's smart nation initiative, were ramping up "an IoT future", but consumers clearly remained concerned about privacy, security, and control, and this could hold back adoption.

Pomford said: "The beauty of technology advancements means there are many opportunities for virtual assistants and connected devices to make consumers' lives easier... In the end, consumers need confidence that machines can be trusted to make the right decisions and keep their owners informed and in control."

Worldpay said it currently was trialling an open source SDK (software development kit) to facilitate payments via IoT devices.

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