Rapid adoption in the developing world will fuel a boom in mobile payments over the next three years, with global transaction volumes reaching $250 billion in 2012, according to a report from Arthur D Little.
The firm predicts a 68% per annum increase in transaction volume to 2012 but in developed countries the rate of growth will be just 56% compared to 76% in emerging markets. By 2012, developing countries will account for 65% of total transaction volumes.
The report says that in developed countries m-payment services will not substitute existing systems, as mass adoption will be limited to niche segments. Meanwhile, despite the hype, contactless NFC payments will not take off in this market until at least 2011.
In contrast, m-payment services will become the first widespread, cashless transaction system in emerging markets, with the focus on low value, high volume transactions.
Remittances will be an important factor in driving transaction volume and also spur cross-border cooperation among providers.
After an initial period of competition between m-payments providers, there has been a move to improve cooperation and interoperability among providers over the last year.
In February the GSMA, which represents the interests of the worldwide mobile communications industry, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced a programme that aims to expand the availability of financial services to millions of people in the developing world through mobile phones.
The Mobile Money for the Unbanked programme, supported by a US$12.5 million grant from the foundation, will work with operators, banks, microfinance institutions, government and development organisations to encourage the expansion of mobile financial services to the unbanked.