Location-free monetary transactions, and goodbye to long queues. That's the next imminent revolution t be ushered in by a mobile phone, which is destined to become the single hub connecting people to the economy.
Jupiter Research reports that global revenues from mobile transactions or m-commerce stood at $22 million in 2005, to which Asia contributed more than 40 per cent. The bulk of it comes of course from Japan, where 43 per cent of internet users make payments through their mobile phones, according to a study by eMarketer. Japan has the highest number of mobile phone users in the world.
In India mobile payments are set to be the next hang-up. The 100 million mobile subscribers in India, 45 million credit or debit card holders and over 38 million internet users, this is the next logical step. Citibank had pioneered SMS-based mobile payment services earlier this year in India, in collaboration with PayMate, a spin-off unit of moblie solutions company Coruscant Tec. Now PayMate is also available on websites like Rediff, Naukri, Jeevansaathi, 99acres and Cleartrip. Even TV shopping network Telebrands has climbed on to the bandwagon.
Shopping, utility bill payments, travel and entertainment are areas into make mobile payment has already made its advent in India, though in conjunction with online payment. Bill Junction, Air Deccan and PVR Cinemas offer both online and mobile payment.
Airtel, in collaboration with ICICI Bank and Visa, had launched its mobile wallet facility, mChq, in September 2005 in Mumbai and New Delhi, but there have been few takers.
IAMAI estimates that there are about 4.6 million online banking users in India today, with the number expected to quadruple by 2007-08. Mobile payments segment will presumably cut into this growth, once the customers overcome the security concerns. Measures like m-ticketing, prepaid easy recharge and m-coupons would facilitate this change.