Worldwide mobile payment transaction values will surpass $171.5 billion in 2012, a 61.9 percent increase from 2011 values of $105.9 billion, according to Gartner, Inc. The number of mobile payment users will reach 212.2 million in 2012, up from 160.5 million in 2011.
"We expect global mobile transaction volume and value to average 42 percent annual growth between 2011 and 2016, and we are forecasting a market worth $617 billion with 448 million users by 2016," says Sandy Shen, research director at Gartner. "This will bring opportunities for service and solution providers who will need to cater to the local demand patterns to customize their offerings."
SMS remains the dominant access technology in developing markets because of the constraints of mobile devices and the ubiquity of SMS.
Web/WAP is the preferred access technology in North America and Western Europe where mobile Internet is commonly available and activated on user devices. Gartner expects Web/WAP access to account for about 88 percent of total transactions in North America and about 80 percent in Western Europe by 2016.
Near Field Communication (NFC) transactions will remain relatively low through 2015, although growth will start to pick up from 2016.
"NFC payment involves a change in user behavior and requires collaboration among stakeholders that includes banks, mobile carriers, card networks and merchants," said Shen. "It takes time for both to happen, so we don't expect NFC payments to come into the mass market before 2015. In the meantime, ticketing, rather than retail payment, will drive NFC transactions."
Merchandise purchases will drive transactions in North America and Western Europe. These will include e-commerce purchases where users buy online, as well as in-store purchases. Major e-tailers such as Amazon and eBay have developed strong mobile storefronts and have seen significant growth from the mobile channel.
For in-store purchases, Starbucks' Card Mobile app is now being rolled out nationwide in the U.S., following a successful pilot program, and Gartner expects a large number of merchants to introduce their own mobile payment services, trying to emulate Starbucks' success.
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