Ovum recently took part in the GSMA’s NFC & Mobile Money Summit, which addressed the development of mobile money services in both emerging and mature markets.
We left the event with the impression that the telecom industry has a shared vision of what successful mobile money services will look like and what user experience they will provide.
However, it is less clear how the industry will reach this vision, including how it will address the problem of convincing retailers and users to embrace on-premise payments. In addition, the business model that the industry will need to employ to make and share revenues remains vague.
Despite these concerns, we are optimistic about the future of mobile money services in both mature and emerging markets, with the latter having greater potential in the short to medium term.
The mobile money vision is crystalizing…
The NFC & Mobile Money Summit was the first major event where mobile money services were discussed in the context of both mature and emerging markets. Listening to speakers from companies such as Telecom Italia, Vodafone, Visa, Mastercard, MTN Uganda, China Mobile and Smart, it was apparent that there is an increasingly clear and shared vision of what mobile money services will look like in the future.
That vision is for the mobile phone to take on the role of a digital wallet that enables users to pay for goods, travel and tickets; transfer money; and receive promotional offers and store loyalty points. This will be assisted by the fact that a growing number of smartphones are being shipped with NFC technology.
In many emerging markets, the majority of adults don’t have access to banking services but do have access to a mobile phone. As a result, mobile money services are providing previously unbanked consumers with access to financial services.