The number of people around the world making payments using their mobile phones is set to soar from 43.1 million in 2008 to 73.4 million this year, a 70% rise, according to analyst house Gartner.
By 2012, the company predicts the number of people making m-payments will hit 190 million - more than three per cent of total mobile users - as it becomes "mainstream."
However, security concerns, an inadequate 'ecosystem' and undefined areas in banking regulations remain challenges for the technology.
Gartner expects Asia Pacific and Japan to lead the way in mobile payment penetration, rising from two per cent this year to 3.8% in 2012. In Western Europe penetration is expected to rise from 0.9% in 2009 to 2.5% in 2012, while in North America the figure will jump from 1.7% to three per cent.
Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa and Latin America markets are also expected to exceed three percent penetration within three years.
Sandy Shen, research director, Gartner says the purpose and impact of mobile payments varies in different parts of the world.
"In developing markets, together with mobile banking, it allows people to use financial services in a more-efficient way - and sometimes the only way - at more-affordable costs, and can greatly improve standards of living. In developed markets, mobile is more of an extension of the existing payment infrastructure that allows people to deal with their financial needs on the go and in a timely fashion," says Shen.
This disparity leads to the presence of different products in different markets. For example, many services in the US rely on a full browser and credit card, but this won't work in developing markets, as many people don't even have a bank account or card.
Shen says there will be fragmentation in both technologies and business models, meaning that services need to be adapted for individual markets - even when deployed with the same partners - and that long lead times will be needed for deployment.
Shen concludes: "For mobile operators, mobile payment can help attract and retain users and generate new revenue streams. For financial institutions, mobile payment is an opportunity to reach users who may have been previously unreachable, due to a lack of retail infrastructure."