Mobile phones and Internet payments expected to reach $US796 billion in 2014

Posted on October 17, 2013 07:44 am

A new study by World Payments report has revealed that the amount of money transacted through mobile phones and over the Internet are expected to reach $US796 billion globally in 2014. Mobile and Internet payments are expected to increase as more people have access to mobile phones and more payment methods are developed with Africa and Asia expected to be the leading regions. Forecast for mobile-payment volumes to grow to 30 billion transactions worldwide over the same period. Analysts expect a leap to mobile-payments to use Near Field Communication. After reading the report it is clear that the market is dispersed around plenty of different technologies and consumers can access more than 500 different types of electronic wallets. Non-cash payments markets that are already saturated are cited as Canada, United States, Scandinavian countries and land down under Australia. Emerging and developing markets in Africa and Asia were the fastest growing areas for mobile phone-based payments and e-payments. Research conducted separately in Africa earlier this year revealed that banks want to be the main providers of electronic and mobile payment systems, due to their regulatory backgrounds.

Mobile network operators in East African region and companies from various sectors were racing to come up with a method and device that would lead to the anticipated surge in m-payments with utility companies being the leaders of the pack partnering with both banks and telecom operators. The report said that Telecom network operators in African countries unlike in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania will have to negotiate consumer trust issues and commercial realities for them to experience the same growth in the mobile payments as their East African counterparts. Me think that the existence of a role for telecom operators in the present and future payments space shouldn’t be curtailed as some bank chiefs have been suggesting. In East and Southern Africa region where I am familiar with telecom business models, almost all telecom operators are either prepaid or postpaid businesses that are built on gigantic transaction engines. I also think that the reason why Mobile money transfer has not become a hit in other parts of Africa compared to Eastern part of the continent is the regulatory environment that is not right and technically it has made it very hard for telecom operators to actually enter mobile financial service business while in some western African countries powerful bankers have always been mentioned as being behind the powerful cartel blocking and frustrating mobile operators smooth entry into the mobile payments foray.

One of the known barrier to telecom operators making an effective business in the mobile payments space is the commercial reality. In Rwanda and Zambia, there were cases where the biggest corporate customer for the foreign owned telecom network operator was actually a multi national bank. That was said to make it hard for the telecom operator that was looking to go into competition with the bank. In Zimbabwe and Malawi winning consumer trust to the point where they entrusted money with telecom network operators has been cited as the main challenge to the growth of mobile-based payments. A study conducted in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda in 2011 consumers were said to trust their telecom operators with their money more than trust their banks that are always accused of hidden and excessive charges that most people cant afford. Statistics shows that only 20% of African population has bank accounts but more than 70% of Africans own mobile phones hence the cut throat battle between the banks and telecom network operators for the unbanked population. Telecoms in those three countries have been very innovative and the bank’s now starting to join the bandwagon but they’ve failed to innovate by working on copy cat ideas initiatives that are not effective. I know of a bank that launched a mobile payment platform and ten months down the line they have less than 2,000 subscribers yet they have more than a million customers. Most African banks have facilities that allow easy transactions from a mobile phone but only handful few make money from them but the future looks bright for the established big boys.

Contador Harrison