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15pc of mobile users made a payment in 2013: MEF

Despite the fragmentation of the mobile payment industry, the consumers who are already shopping and engaging with content from their mobile devices are some of the most lucrative consumers for marketers, according to a new report from trade organization MEF.

The MEF’s report is part of the Global Consumer Insights Series on mobile money and surveyed 10,000 respondents in 13 countries. The report singles out a type of mobile owner called the mobile money user as a key demographic for marketers to hone in on.

“Mobile commerce offers consumers convenience and creates rich data for businesses, so there’s no doubting its potential,” said Simon Bates, senior policy and initiatives advisor at MEF, London.

“However, the challenge is the fragmented state of the market – there are no clear technology winners yet,” he said. “Two thousand and fourteen will see lots more experimentation from marketers and merchants alike, and as the study shows there is lots to learn from other markets and geographies.”

Growing mobile adoption
According to MEF’s study, a mobile money user includes a few different types of mobile users.

For example, a mobile money user can include a consumer who has bought something through a mobile wallet, a loyalty program or a plug-and-play reader card.

The term also describes a consumer who uses a mobile app to pay bills, transfer funds or check balances.

Mobile money user also describes those who transfer some of their airtime – including minutes, texts and data – for cash or mobile content.

Unsurprisingly, users that are already interacting with mobile content on their mobile devices are also more likely to shop straight from their handsets.

Mobile money users are 26 percent more likely to buy something via mobile than the average mobile consumer, per the study.

Additionally, 91 percent of mobile money users made a mobile-driven purchase in 2013. Sixty-five percent of all mobile consumers did the same.

When it comes to how much these consumers are willing to shell out on their mobile devices, mobile money users are 10 percent less likely to make a low-value payment and 14 percent more likely to make a mid-value purchase than the average mobile user.

Mobile money users are also 12 percent more likely to scan bar codes and 10 percent more inclined to use location-based services.

The report also finds that speed plays a critical role in consumers choosing to use mobile payments.

Roughly 25 percent of consumers surveyed said that they have not made a mobile payment because of a slow network speed.

However, 64 percent of consumers connected to a device with 4G networks have made a mobile payment.

The MEF study also looks at mobile banking trends worldwide.

Interestingly, mobile banking has a completely different connotation in areas such as Africa than it does in Europe or the United States.

The report cites checking bills and balances via a mobile app as one of the top uses of mobile banking in the U.S., Britain or China.

On the other hand, consumers in Africa are more likely to use mobile banking to send funds or airtime to other consumers.

Per the study, 66 percent of mobile media users use some type of mobile banking. In Kenya, that percentage of mobile bankers reaches 92 percent of mobile media users.

Growing alternative payments
At the same time that MEF’s data reports that only a handful of consumers used mobile payments last year, another new study from WorldPay suggests that mobile payments and other alternatives to credit cards will grow significantly in the coming years.

WorldPay’s “Your Global Guide to Alternative Payments” report finds that online payments made with alternative payments will represent 59 percent of payments in 2017. These payments generated 43 percent of online sales in 2012.

The findings are based on surveys and interviews with ecommerce and mobile commerce executives by WorldPay.

When it comes to types of payment that consumers are most comfortable with, PayPal was favored by 57 percent of participants and China’s Alipay was favored by 20 percent.

The value of mobile payments will reach $117 billion by 2017, a huge leap from $18 billion in 2012.

“Globally, mobile currently makes up a small but important part of the ecommerce payments mix — 1 percent of the total value of global ecommerce transactions in 2012, or a transactional value of $18 billion,” said Shane Happach, chief commercial officer at WorldPay, London.

“However we’re set to see this figure increase to $117 billion in 2017, [representing] 3 percent of the total ecommerce share,” he said.

“This is due to technology coming of age and enabling more innovation in specialized mobile payments. Consumers are also becoming much more comfortable with making purchases via mobile devices, everything from low-cost in-game add-ons to higher-value items such as technology and travel purchases.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York