Mobile commerce slow to make progress

09 May 2012

NEW YORK: Singapore, Canada and the US are the markets currently offering the greatest potential for mobile commerce, but even here progress remains nascent, a report by MasterCard has argued.

The financial services group polled 1,000 people in each of 34 countries to assess their "readiness" for m-commerce. It also looked at the related digital, financial services, telecoms, infrastructural and regulatory arenas in all of the featured nations.

Singapore headed the charts overall with an index reading of 45.6 points on a 100-point scale, a modest figure given MasterCard stated that 60 points or more was required to reach a real "inflection point".

Canada occupied second position on 42 points, and the US generated 41.5 points. Kenya was named as the possible "standout", claiming third place on 40.4 points.

South Korea followed with 39.7 points, bettering Japan's 39.6 points. The UAE logged 37.9 points, topping the 37.5 points secured by Saudi Arabia and the UK. China made up the top ten on 36.5 points.

The average rating stood at 33.2 points, with Indonesia below this benchmark on 22.4 points, as was Italy on 25.5 points, Hungary on 27 points and Mexico on 27.7 points.

"Technology infrastructure, a responsive regulatory environment and a robust economy are table stakes for the advancement of mobile payments," Theodore Iacobuzio, MasterCard Worldwide's vice president for global insights, said. "The necessary conditions are consumer readiness and industry integration."

Kenya led the "consumer readiness" rankings, as 89% of people were familiar with mobile payments, while 68% had used their phone to complete peer-to-peer transactions.

A further 22% had already bought goods and services via this route and 9% paid for something at a point of sale in the same way, with all of these totals considerably ahead of the norm.

The US was regarded as presenting the strongest environment for future growth as average per capita household expenditure comes in at $33,000, versus an international figure of $11,005.

Singapore had both the most favourable regulatory climate and infrastructural arrangements, enjoying 100% mobile coverage, 70% internet penetration and 68% mobile penetration.

Elsewhere, Japan's financial services industry was seen as best placed to move forward, as shoppers hold an average of 14.98 payment cards per person, and 91% of providers received strong scores for treating customers well.

Data sourced from MasterCard; additional content by Warc staff