By Marcus Leach

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%.