LONDON: Mobile commerce is quickly gaining ground in the UK, a trend encouraged by the rising penetration of smartphones.

Trade association the IAB estimated that 51% of mobile phone owners, some 23m people, had employed their handset to make payments, redeem vouchers or research products.

It based these figures on a representative sample of 1,000 subscribers, 43% of which had previously found out information about goods and services through this route before making purchases.

A further 40% accessed their phone to check store details such as exact location and opening hours, and 37% had made purchases from a mobile.

More specifically, 32% paid to download content and 23% used their mobile as a virtual ticket for travel or an event.

Entering shortcodes to acquire products and reclaiming coupons both posted 21%, and 13% of those polled had entered a phone number to make a payment.

Equally, 27% of contributors had completed a transaction utilising credit/debit cards, entering bank details or via the PayPal system.

This included 21% buying applications from dedicated stores, 19% doing so on mobile websites and 15% within an app itself, and the average expenditure through these channels hit £12.20 ($19.16; €13.94).

In all, 42% of consumers that had engaged in m-commerce did so as they believed it was the easiest option available.

Those who thought discovering information in this way was relatively straightforward were 16% more likely to actually make a purchase.

Smartphone users were also 63% more likely to have participated in this activity, and of the respondents not having done so as yet, 35% suggested this was because their handset lacked sufficient functionality.

A 31% share of interviewees making acquisitions stated this was a spontaneous decision, while 25% enjoyed the experimental element when obtaining items via wireless devices.

"Whilst m-commerce is on the radar for many retailers, our research highlights the need for more urgency in terms of developing a mobile presence," said Alex Kozloff, mobile manager at the Internet Advertising Bureau.

"Almost half of mobile users are making purchases, and of those who don't, half again are certain they will in the future, so investment in a solid mobile retail presence is essential."

Data sourced from IAB; additional content by Warc staff