We are the UK regulator for content, goods and services charged to a phone bill.

Phone romance up by a third, as mobile flirts splash out on virtual gifts

21 April 2011

As Royal Wedding fever hots up, romance is calling for a new generation of romantics who flirt by mobile phone.

Spending on flirt and dating services charged to mobile phones increased by 36% in 2010, a recent report shows.

The Current and Emerging Trends in the UK Premium Rate Services report, published by the UK premium rate telephone services (PRS) regulator, PhonepayPlus, shows spending on flirt and chat services was up by 36%, from £25.5 million in 2009 to £34.7 million in 2010.

The report highlights the attraction for the mobile generation of ‘flirting-on-the-go’, fuelled by virtual gifts for phone flirts’ romantic interests. For example, one mobile and online flirting service reported ‘explosive sales’ of virtual gifts over Christmas 2009, selling 28,000 gifts – such as virtual Christmas stockings – in the five days between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve, equating to 233 gifts an hour.

Paul Whiteing, PhonepayPlus’ Chief Executive, commented:

“As a regulator, we welcome innovation in the market and very much want consumers to enjoy fun new services with the reassurance that there is a regulator working with industry to prevent consumer harm.

“All romantics, Royal or not, can be reassured that if they choose to mobile flirt using PRS as a micropayment PhonepayPlus and the PRS industry are working together to give them the best protection. Every consumer, whatever service they use and whatever micropayment mechanism they pay by, deserves such protection.”

Men are far more likely to phone flirt, with 63.2% of users being male compared to 36.7% female users. 18-34 year olds are the highest users of mobile flirting and dating, with 11.8% of 18-24 year olds and 14.4% of 25-34 year olds using a flirt, chat or dating PRS in the last six months, compared with an average across all adults of 5.6%.

  1. PhonepayPlus is the organisation (previously known as ICSTIS) that regulates premium rate services – the goods and services that you can buy by charging the cost to your phone bill and mobile pre-pay account. Further details of its work can be found at www.phonepayplus.org.uk.
  2. Ofcom has responsibility and accountability for the regulation of premium rate services under the terms of the Communications Act 2003. However, Ofcom has appointed PhonepayPlus to deliver the day-to-day regulation of the market, granting it formal powers to protect consumers on its behalf by approving its Code of Practice.
  3. This research was primarily conducted between October and December 2010, and comprised an online consumer survey (14,062 respondents aged 11 upwards) and 17 in-depth telephone interviews with industry stakeholders from across the in telecoms value chain. In addition, desk research, data from PhonepayPlus and data from Analysys Mason contributed to the market analysis.
  4. The sale of 28,000 virtual gifts in the five days between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve in 2009 was recorded by mobile and online flirting service Flirtomatic. 
  5. For more information, contact the PhonepayPlus Press Office on (020) 7940 7440 or email pressoffice@phonepayplus.org.uk