Mobile payments driving global m-commerce adoption


MEF this week released the first report in its Global Consumer Insights Series on Mobile Money, authored by editor in chief of Mobile Money Revolution, Tim Green and with Analytics partner, On Device Research.

The report analyses data from 10,000 respondents in 13 countries, highlighting regional & global trends in mobile money uptake and how it is stimulating growth across the mobile value chain.

In 2013, 15 per cent of mobile media users used some form of mobile money scheme to buy things at retail. They did so via a mobile wallet (NFC or otherwise), a mobile loyalty scheme or a transaction based on a plug-and-play card reader.

It’s a relatively modest number, although the amount of investment and innovation into the space suggests this will change.

Key Findings

  • 15 per cent of mobile media users used mobile payments to pay for goods in 2013.
  • Mobile money users are 26 per cent more likely to buy via mobile than average.
  • Africa continues to dominate mobile banking uptake with an average of 82 per cent of consumers engaged in this activity (globally it’s 66 per cent).
  • Network speed is important: two thirds of 4G customers have made an m-payment.

And, even more encouraging, MEF’s Mobile Money Insight Report shows a huge difference in overall commerce and content activity between those converted to m-money and those not. Indeed, in some areas, mobile money users do twice as much – in the purchase of perishable goods and virtual items, for example. And this applies across all 13 countries in the study.

At present the most high profile ‘proximity’ payment system is undoubtedly based on contactless NFC tech. However, for all the many pilots in operation, the study suggests take-up is very modest – at four per cent, it’s a similar number to those using loyalty apps or those who have paid with a card-reading mPOS dongle.

There are reasons to be optimistic about the area as a whole. The study reveals a quarter of users don’t pursue mobile payments because ‘the network is too slow’. But those with 4G are highly engaged. While fewer than one in seven mobile media users have made some form of mobile payment, the rate shoots to two thirds among 4G users.

Mobile money users

Mobile money users are significantly more likely to purchase via mobile

By contrast, mobile banking is already mainstream in some regions. The use of mobile apps for checking balances and paying bills is commonplace: two thirds of mobile media users do it.

Obviously, there are significant regional variations at play. In the African cluster of countries, the mobile money account is the bank account, and it’s used for transferring funds between users. The data re-emphasises the status of Kenya as the flag bearer for such activities. Globally, 66 per cent of mobile media users use some form of mobile banking. In Kenya, it’s 92 per cent.

Whereas, in developed markets, users are more likely to check balances and set up alerts for pre-existing bank accounts. For example, just over 50 per cent of American mobile media users check balances on their phones while only 16 per cent transfer funds to another account.

However, in other regions, mobile banking is proving harder to scale. Indeed, activity in in India, Mexico and Brazil actually fell between 2012 and 2013. These results reflect the legislative and regulatory challenges around launching mobile banking products to a significant proportion of the population – especially in countries with a large number of competing MNOs.

What is clear is that early adopters of mobile money are key to accelerating the growth of mobile commerce. This is true both in terms of their propensity to spend more on individual purchases and their likelihood to engage with a wider array of mobile services. In many markets, mobile money has already hit the mainstream, with Africa leading the way. Faster mobile networks will only advance its adoption further worldwide and opportunities for the mobile content and commerce industries as a whole are wide open.

Mobile Banking Globally

Mobile Banking Globally

For the full press release, and to download the Member-only report, visit the MEF website.


  1. “Thanks for this write-up!
    I would add that engagement with the mobile shopping app will be able to be key of mobile commerce in future.
    Social media and email marketing campaigns won’t do the trick for these demographics, so it’s important for merchants to get creative. One way to do this is through push notifications sent from a mobile commerce app which have a tap-through rate of about 40-50%. Email open rates hover around 15-20%. Mobile User are more likely to pick up their phones to see a notification and then shop than they are to take time reading a promo email or social post.
    That’s why mobile app builders like developes pushing notification feature as a key feature for retailers to boost their sales and their loyalty customers”


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    Mobile payments driving global m-commerce adoption – mefminute

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