KUALA LUMPUR: Mobile commerce is taking off in Malaysia and is set to grow 300% faster than e-commerce in 2016, according to the country's leading online payment gateway provider.

iPay88 claims its online payment transactions account for almost 70% of the Malaysian market and reported that 3.7m online shoppers making purchases through its systems in 2015 used mobile devices, an 85% increase on the 2014 figure of 2m.

And in the first quarter of this year, 1.6m shoppers made purchases through their mobile devices this way, MIS Asia reported.

"Many of our merchants are also actively promoting mobile purchases in 2016 following the m-commerce boom," noted Chan Kok Long, Executive Director at iPay88.

Almost half (47%) of Malaysians use their smartphones to shop online and that is reflected in the proportion of mobile traffic through iPay88: two years ago it was 27% but it will likely break the 50% barrier this year – it stood at 48.6% in the first quarter.

Chan highlighted the top categories for m-commerce in Malaysia as ticketing (35%) and marketplace/group buying (29%). "Airline tickets are the most popular items Malaysians purchase on tablets," he added.

The country now ranks among the top three fastest-growing emerging markets for mobile shopping in the region, alongside India and Malaysia.

"[There is] no doubt that the availability of cheap smart phones and laptops has made the internet accessible to a whole new demographic," Chan said. "The advent of tablets and smart watches has also broadened the spectrum of internet usage."

But the surge in m-commerce is being driven by other factors in addition to device ownership, including the advent of businesses such as Uber and GrabCar "that leverage on mobile booking and transactions via mobile phones".

The Internet of Things will add another dimension to future m-commerce growth.

Data sourced from MIS Asia; additional content by Warc staff