Mobile payments could balloon 76% to $86 billion this year, Gartner says

141.1 million people around the world will make mobile payments this year, a 38.2% increase from last year, Gartner said in a new report issued on Friday. Global mobile payment volume is expected to hit $86.1 billion in 2011, up 75.9% from the $48.9 billion recorded last year. Gartner says mobile payments are not growing as fast as originally projected due to slower than expected uptake in developing countries. In addition, the “complexity of the [NFC]” service model has impeded its ability to takeoff in developed countries. “The biggest hurdle is the need to change user behavior by convincing consumers to pay with mobile phones instead of cash and cards,” Gartner research director Sandy Shen said, noting that mass market adoption of near-field communications (NFC) is at least four years away. Mobile payments will be driven by prepaid top-ups and money transfers, the research firm said. “Thanks to the success of mobile application stores, such as Apple’s App Store, and the efforts in driving mobile sales by major retailers, such as Amazon and eBay, merchandise purchases far outweigh other use cases in developed markets, which include North America and Western Europe,” Shen said. “We predict that in 2011, merchandise purchases will account for 90 percent and 77 percent of all transactions in North America and Western Europe, respectively.” Read on for the full press release.

Gartner Says Worldwide Mobile Payment Users to Reach 141 Million in 2011

Mobile Payments in Developing Markets Growing Slower Than Expected

Worldwide mobile payment users will surpass 141.1 million in 2011, a 38.2 percent increase from 2010, when mobile payment users reached 102.1 million, according to Gartner, Inc. Worldwide mobile payment volume is forecast to total $86.1 billion, up 75.9 percent from 2010 volume of $48.9 billion.

Despite these strong growth projections, Gartner analysts said the mobile payment market is growing slower than expected.

“In developing markets, despite favorable conditions for mobile payment, growth is not as strong as was anticipated. Many service providers are yet to adapt their strategies to local requirements, and success models from Kenya and the Philippines are unlikely to be translated to other markets,” said Sandy Shen, research director at Gartner. While developing markets have favorable conditions for mobile payments, such as high penetration of mobile devices and low banking penetration, this is no guarantee of success, unless service providers adapt their strategies to local market requirements.”

“In developed markets, companies are trumpeting the prospects of Near Field Communication (NFC) without realizing the complexity of the service model. We believe mass market adoption of NFC payments is at least four years away,” Ms. Shen said. “The biggest hurdle is the need to change user behavior by convincing consumers to pay with mobile phones instead of cash and cards.”

Gartner expects Short Message Service (SMS) and Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) to remain the dominant access technologies in developing markets due to the constraints of mobile phones. Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) will remain the preferred mobile access technology in developed markets, where the mobile Internet is commonly available and activated on the phone. Mobile app downloads and mobile commerce are the main drivers of WAP payments, and WAP will account for almost 90 percent of all mobile transactions in North America and about 70 percent in Western Europe in 2011.

Money transfers and prepaid top-ups will drive transaction volumes in developing markets. These are seen as the “killer apps” in developing markets, where people value the convenience of sending money to relatives and topping up mobile accounts. This is most obvious in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, where these two services will account for 54 percent and 32 percent of all transactions in 2011.

“Thanks to the success of mobile application stores, such as Apple’s App Store, and the efforts in driving mobile sales by major retailers, such as Amazon and eBay, merchandise purchases far outweigh other use cases in developed markets, which include North America and Western Europe,” Ms. Shen said. “We predict that in 2011, merchandise purchases will account for 90 percent and 77 percent of all transactions in North America and Western Europe, respectively.”

Additional information is available in the Gartner report “Market Trends: Mobile Payments Worldwide, 2011.” The report is available on Gartner’s website at http://www.gartner.com/resId=1714114.

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