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Mobile money transfer users expected to reach 400M by 2018: study

The number of consumers whp will use their mobile devices to transfer and send money internationally is expected to grow significantly in the next four years, according to a new report from Juniper Research.

Juniper’s new “Mobile Money Transfer: Send and Spend” report looks at the growth of mobile money transfers in countries such as Asia and Africa. To help the industry grow, marketing will play a key role for companies looking to break into mobile money transfers.

“Marketing is absolutely crucial – there’s a clear correlation in the uplift between consumer awareness of a service and the extent to which those consumers have been exposed to TV advertising,” said Windsor Holden, research director at Juniper Research, Hampshire, England.

“That marketing needs to take place before, at and immediately post-launch to help build a critical mass of active users,” he said.

Mobile transfers
The expected 400 million mobile money transfer users represents a growth from the 150 million consumers that will use the services this year.

According to the Juniper report, the growth will primarily stem from rollouts of new domestic transfer services. Multinational network operators will also launch products on a group-wide basis instead of on an ad hoc basis.

With the growth in mobile money services, service providers will need to hone in on infrastructures to support transfers.

The report suggests that the agent-subscriber ratio should be 1:500 to keep a high number of active users.

Mobile opportunity
For financial institutions, one of the biggest use cases around mobile transactions is the lower cost than building a branch location or installing ATMs.

This places an especially important role in developing countries where there are unbanked consumers.

Take Tanzania, for example. Seventeen percent of adults in the country have a bank account, but more than two-thirds have a mobile device, according to the report.

Therefore there is a tremendous opportunity for financial institutions to break into mobile for acquisition purchases.

Juniper’s report also outlines several countries where mobile transactions will see high growth in the next few years.

Of the roughly 400 million consumers using mobile money transfers, a little less than 25 percent of the transactions will take place in India. Other key areas include the Far East and China, and Africa and Middle East.

Smaller areas of mobile money transfers by 2018 include central and eastern Europe, western Europe and Latin America.

While there is an opportunity in less-developed countries to expand mobile money transfers, taxes in these areas may halt some of the growth.

“In Kenya and Uganda, governments have imposed a 10 percent tax on mobile money services,” Dr. Holden said.

“While in Kenya the impact has not been substantial thus far, in a less mature market such a heavy tax, which would undoubtedly be passed on from service provider to end user could severely constrain service growth,” he said.

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