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MasterCard: Singapore, U.S., Kenya and South Korea are most prepared for mobile payments

The “MasterCard Mobile Payments Readiness Index” examined 34 countries to see how set up countries were for mobile payments. Additionally, the study looked at which types of mobile commerce users were most responsive to.

“Educating consumers on the benefit of mobile payments will be key to driving adoption as will partnerships and a strong infrastructure,” said Christina Sommer, vice president of the global insights group of MasterCard Worldwide, Purchase, NY.

“It is early days for mobile payments in all markets though progress is being made. Mobile commerce could be a gateway to more widespread adoption of all mobile payment types,” she said.

Mobile world
On a scale from zero to 100 with 100 being completely prepared for mobile payments, the average score among all countries surveyed was 33.2 points and no market reached a score of 50, showing the lack of universal preparation for mobile payments.

MasterCard claims that a score of 60 points represents that a country is ready for mobile payments.

Singapore ranked as the most prepared country with a score of 45.6 points.

The countries scores range between approximately 23 and 45, showing the narrow gap between each country. This means that every country surveyed has opportunities to pursue mobile payments.

The key to advancement in mobile payments will be consumer adoption regardless of the technology being used, per the study.

The study is based on findings from MasterCard between October 2011 and February that surveyed an average of 1,000 consumers in each of the 34 countries surveyed.

Plan for mobile payments
The survey was based on six areas – consumer readiness, regulation, mobile commerce clusters, environment, financial services and infrastructure.

The study examined three types of mobile payments – contactless payments at the point of sale, person to person and mobile Web commerce.

Consumers had engaged with mobile commerce Web in 71 percent of the countries, showing how commerce has become ubiquitous to mobile Web initiatives. Although there is hype around mobile contactless payments and person-to-person payments, users might not be up to par to the technology yet.

The study also found some surprising findings that break down mobile payment readiness by country.

For example, Kenya does not have a strong infrastructure behind mobile payments. However, the country has a high number of consumers who are interested in using it, which is why the country ranked high.

Conversely, Singapore rated highly because of its strong financial systems, infrastructure and structures, but fell short on consumer willingness.

Additionally, mobile payments must give users a clear value. In France, consumers are knowledgeable about mobile payments but are not sure on what it will give them as an extra incentive.

Other countries that ranked well in the study include Canada, Saudi Arabia, Britain and China.

Although the infrastructure might not be completely clear in the U.S., the country has a high household expenditure – $33,000 – compared to an index average of $11,015. The high expenditure is evidence that consumers might be willing to engage in mobile payments.

“Mobile Web Commerce leads the mobile payments industry because it has the least friction. Simply put, it’s just a smaller version of what we know online,” said Drew Sievers, CEO of mFoundry, San Francisco.

“Person-to-person and point-of-sale payments, on the other hand, require significant hardware and software adoption, along with a shift in consumer behavior. They also require a new way of thinking when it comes to existing business models. All these items create friction that stalls, and in some cases kills, the development of these new industries,” he said.

“Mobile payments will germinate and grow at different rates in different countries. It will take a very long time for the different and unique approaches to converge. In the mean time, each region will work to create a unified approach that solves the local problems.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York