Emerging markets in Asia lead mobile payment trends

There is a high propensity to make cashless payments through mobile devices in emerging Asian markets such as China, Indonesia, and Thailand, according to a consumer survey by MasterCard. Global forex provider OANDA corroborates the findings, citing a number of personal finance services in which smartphones find increased applicability.


The survey shows Indonesian consumers top the region with more than half of respondents (54.5%) using their smartphones to shop over the past three months. China and Thailand trail only slightly with 54.1% and 51%, respectively.


Results in more mature Asian markets diverge. About 40% of online shoppers in Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore have made a purchase with their phone in the past three months. Least likely to shop via mobile phones, though, are respondents from New Zealand (18.2%), Australia (18.7%) as well as the Philippines (21.4%).


"The MasterCard survey reflects the changing behaviours of shoppers in the region, with more consumers opting to purchase goods online and increasingly using their smartphones to do it. With the exception of a few markets, online shoppers are becoming more confident about using their phones to shop and I'd expect that trend to continue as more sophisticated technologies come onto the market and more products are offered online," says Porush Singh, senior vice- president, core products, global products and solutions, Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa, MasterCard in response to the findings.


Mobile banking apps enjoy high awareness, the survey highlights, with nearly half of respondents stating they are familiar with these services, followed by apps that combine social networking and shopping (34%), in-game-app shopping (33%) and SMS/MMS-based payments (31%). Despite the attention received in technology and retail industries, mobile NFC (near field communication) technology was found to have the lowest awareness levels with only 25% of those asked being familiar with the concept.


Separately in India, research by industry consultant KPCB unveils that mobile internet traffic has surpassed desktop internet usage in May 2012, with the share of total internet traffic channeled through mobile devices expanding ever since.
In an April 24 press release, forex provider OANDA identifies a general migration towards mobile devices not only in payments but also in currency trading and additional areas.


As a complimentary asset class to equities and fixed-income instruments, foreign exchange has seen strong pick-up since the early 2000s. With desktop services now rolled out on mobile devices, market makers like OANDA bet on a continued growth spurt via new channels as well.


Apart from currency trading, there are smartphone applications that allow users to raise visibility and control over personal spending, bill payments and investment objectives. OANDA further names travel budgeting as a field in which smartphones begin to have applicability.


Monetization of the various tools and services that mobile devices offer is a growing stream of revenue for a wide range of stakeholders ranging from network operators to financial institutions. Citing figures of research firm Gartner, KPCB says revenue from mobile advertisement and shopping surged from US$0.7 billion in 2008 to US$15 billion in 2011 and is expected to have surpassed US$19 billion by the end of 2012.