The annual transaction volume for mobile P2P transfers in the US will be $7 billion this year, with volume projected to grow substantially in the next few years, according to the latest research from Javelin.
Mobile person-to-person payments have been available for more than ten years in the US, tracing their roots back to PayPal's arrival in 1998. However, despite significant advances in handset technology, mobile network connectivity and improved experiences for users on handsets, broad-based consumer adoption remains low.
According to the study - which uses data collected online from two random-sample survey panels, including 3100 respondents with mobile phones in July 2010 and 5211 households representative of the US online population in March 2010 - only eight percent of US consumers with a mobile phone plan to make a transaction in the next year.
This is in strong contrast to experiences in developing economies, where adoption is being driven by the lack of banking infrastructure such as ATMs and bank branches and the absence of alternatives payment products.
"In the US, we have a highly developed and mature payment ecosystem that offers consumers abundant choices for making payments, which is something many emerging markets don't have," says James Van Dyke, president and founder of Javelin. "If financial institutions want to be consumers' first choice for banking and payments via mobile devices, they will need to develop a strategy for addressing the growing P2P mobile money market."
The report finds that smartphone owners and consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 are both the most active users of mobile banking and are prime targets for mobile P2P use, with almost four in every ten mobile bankers initiating a transfer in the past twelve months.
Most consumers who use mobile P2P payments do so for domestic transfers and not for international remittances, says javelin, with the majority of mobile P2P transactions initiated in the $10 to $50 value range.
"Until now, no dominant P2P mobile payments player has surfaced in the US," says Beth Robertson, director of payments research at Javelin. "As large FIs begin offering mobile P2P, these bank-centric services will act as a strategic counterbalance, potentially providing the market with the momentum it is currently lacking to help propel mobile P2P payments out of its current niche status and into the mainstream."