Worldwide Mobile Payments to Hit $171 Billion in 2012

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The IT analysts at Gartner, Inc. have announced that worldwide mobile payment transaction values will reach $171.5 billion this year. That is a 61.9% increase over 2011. The number of mobile payment users will also significantly increase this year, hitting at least 212 million users.

"We expect global mobile transaction volume and value to average 42 percent annual growth between 2011 and 2016, and we are forecasting a market worth $617 billion with 448 million users by 2016," said Sandy Shen, research director at Gartner. "This will bring opportunities for service and solution providers who will need to cater to the local demand patterns to customize their offerings."

Gartner said the mobile payments market would remain "fragmented" for at least the next two years, with local markets using a variety of technology and business models. In addition, different regulations around the world will prevent consolidation of the market.

"There will be a few global players that have the scale and resources to serve large customers and the mass market whose requirements can be readily satisfied by standard solutions," Shen said. "However, there will always be segments that cannot be sufficiently served by the global players. The demand of these segments can only be satisfied by specialized or local players who can better understand the segment and have specific solutions to meet the unique challenges."

Though NFC technologies are beginning to proliferate into the smartphone market, Gartner predicts that mobile payments using the technology will remain low until 2015. In the meantime, SMS will remain the dominant technology in developing mobile markets and Web/WAP will continue to be highly used in North America and Europe.

"NFC payment involves a change in user behavior and requires collaboration among stakeholders that includes banks, mobile carriers, card networks and merchants," said Shen. "It takes time for both to happen, so we don't expect NFC payments to come into the mass market before 2015. In the meantime, ticketing, rather than retail payment, will drive NFC transactions."

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