Alternative Finances

9 Mobile Money Markets

As part of our 2013 12 Days of Christmas series, we thought it would be fun to assess the process of emerging economies from the standpoint of mobile. Our North Star is Bloomberg, who ranked its top 20 emerging markets earlier this year, evaluating GDP growth, inflation rate and ease of doing business, and grading these markets on a scale of one to 100.

Which of the top nine emerging markets are having a slow mobile start, which are ripe for mCommerce growth and which are already mobile fanatics? See yourself.

1. China – With an ease of doing business rank of 91, China topped Bloomberg’s list of the top 20 emerging economies, and it’s mobile commerce journey is just getting started. Smartphones and tablets only account for $24.2 billion in annual online sales, or 11 percent of all eCommerce, which remember, is a very small fraction still of overall sales.

Apple just inked a deal with China Mobile that will bring the iPhone to that market and, no doubt, commerce as well. The real sign it’s a sleeping giant ready to be roused? U.S. mCommerce topped $10 billion in the first half of 2013.

2. South Korea – South Korea trails the number one market on our list with GDP growth that’s half of the top market’s total. On mobile, though, its users are more active. In the fourth quarter of 2012, 37 percent of South Korean Internet users made a mobile purchase.

In addition, 51 percent of South Koreans engaged in mobile banking, and an above-average number of users reported to conducting activities such as QR scanning and NFC mobile wallet use, according to eMarketer.

3. Thailand – Ranked number 3 on Bloomberg’s 2013 list, companies like Visa and TOT are already looking to engage the country’s increasing number of smartphone users.

Smartphone use grew 29.1 percent in the third quarter of 2013. Still, widespread mobile payments may be far off. Fifty-six percent of Thai smartphone users do not use their phones to access data or the Internet, meaning many of its 8 million smartphone users aren’t yet buying.

4. Peru – Fourth on the list, Peru’s mobile smartphone penetration stands at 76 percent as of this November, and 58 percent of the country’s urban population uses mobile phones – an important metric as nearly 70 percent of Peruvians live in these regions.

Still, research shows smartphone penetration has reached just 17 percent, meaning sophisticated mobile buying options may still be down the road for Peru’s shoppers.

5. Czech Republic – Due in part to its underdeveloped traditional point of sale infrastructure, the Czech Republic’s mobile penetration is already high by European standards, according to Research and Markets.

Further studies from Accenture confirm it is also one of the leading drivers of smartphone use in mature markets.

6. Malaysia – Malaysia may be an emerging market due to its more than 20 percent GDP growth, but when it comes to mobile payments, MasterCard suggests the Asia-Pacific nation isn’t ready for prime-time. The main setback? Consumers are not yet ready to make the leap.

MasterCard gave Malaysia a 34.3 on its mobile readiness scale, a figure that was just 1.1 above the global average.

7. Turkey – As of February 2013, Nielsen suggests just 19 percent of Turkish phone owners are smartphone users, though mobile phone use is notably higher among the country’s young population, indicating future growth could be on the way. Nielsen indicates that 54 percent of Turkey’s smartphone owners are between the ages of 16 and 34 years old.

8. Chile – Chile was another mobile market facing hurdles, though for different reasons. Just 3 percent of Chileans used mobile devices for eCommerce in 2012, though 70 percent reported to using a laptop or personal computer online.

Despite this, signs indicate that the market could be ready to heat up. Mobile broadband subscriptions grew by 42 percent in Chile in the first quarter of 2013.

9. Russia – Russia may have scored a 49.9 on Bloomberg’s scale, but its mobile payments score would be nowhere near as high. Due to popular services like kiosk network, Qiwi many of Russia’s eCommerce purchases are still completed in cash.

Qiwi processes roughly $4.7 billion annually in eCommerce sales and has a network that more than double’s any one bank’s ATMs, so cash is clearly alive and well in Russia.


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