GSMA Study Counts 30m Active Mobile Money Customers in June 2012

More than 30m people undertook 224.2m mobile money transactions totalling $4.6bn (£3bn) during the month of June 2012 alone. That’s one of the findings of the GSMA’s Mobile Money for the Unbanked (MMU) program’s second annual Global Mobile Money Adoption Survey.

The report analyses the state of the mobile money industry in 2012 and illustrates key findings from the programme’s Mobile Money Deployment Tracker, a database that monitors the number of live and planned mobile money services for the unbanked across the globe.

The study identifies 150 live mobile money services for the unbanked, 41 of which were launched in 2012. In addition, the report finds, the industry is becoming increasingly competitive, with 40 markets identified as having at least two different mobile money services available.

“The social impact of mobile money is already well documented, and our report last year offered the first global benchmarks on how many customers were using mobile money,” said Chris Locke, managing director, GSMA Mobile for Development. “Following our second Mobile Money Adoption Survey, we are able to share deeper insights on the number of customers, on how customers are actually using the service and, perhaps more importantly, on how successful operators are positioning and managing mobile money to meet the needs of those customers.”

The report counted 81.8m registered customers globally, and identified six services with more than 1m active customer accounts, three of which have crossed the 1m active customers threshold in the last 12 months.

There are 56.9m registered customers in sub-Saharan Africa and in June 2012, there were twice as many mobile money users as Facebook users in the region. In terms of geographical spread, more than half of all countries in sub-Saharan Africa have live deployments, and 37 per cent of the 166 mobile networks operators in the region have launched mobile money services to date. Mobile money services are currently available in 34 of the 47 countries in the region.

The report also points out that there are now more mobile money accounts than bank accounts in Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania and Uganda, and more mobile money agent outlets than bank branches in at least 28 countries. And in some countries, the total value of mobile money transactions is equivalent to a significant proportion of the country’s overall GDP; in June 2012, it was equivalent to more than 60 per cent of GDP in Kenya, more than 30 per cent of GDP in Tanzania, and more than 20 per cent of GDP in Uganda.

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AppsFuel Hands Mobile Advertising Task to Amobee

Mobile advertising firm Amobee has struck a deal with mobile app store, AppsFuel, to monetize its app inventory with its Amobee PULSE for Publishers mobile advertising solution. Amobee will also serve as AppsFuel’s mobile ad agency partner to promote AppsFuel to users around the world.

AppsFuel is an independent initiative backed by Buongiorno. It will use PULSE for Publishers to monetize direct and remnant mobile app inventory, tapping in to more than 80 ad networks.

“AppsFuel’s mission is to create a profitable ecosystem for mobile HTML5 developers, and we are ensuring this with carrier billing and now with the possibility of additional revenues via mobile advertising,” said Fernando González Mesones, head of AppsFuel. “We chose Amobee because they have the most comprehensive, advanced mobile advertising solution for both publishers and advertisers on a global scale.”

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Charge Anywhere Launches Mobile Payments in Turks and Caicos

Charge Anywhere has signed a distribution agreement with a local wireless network to provide mobile payment services on the British offshore financial centre of Turks and Caicos.

Working with Islandcom Wireless, the company will enable corporate customers to accept POS card transactions using a mobile app and either a bluetooth, headphone jack or USB-connected card reader.

“This application completely connects the customer to their banking facilitator and replaces wired credit card terminals. This partnership will increase productivity within the business community of the Turks and Caicos and connect them to the world,” said Chandra Craigg, marketing and procurement specialist at Islandcom Wireless.


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News Republic Launches for iPad

The popular News Republic app has launched for iPad and received updates for the iPhone, Android and Blackberry platforms. Developed by Mobiles Republic, the free app is one of many informational apps from the company and delivers breaking global and regional news to its users

Like many news apps, News Republic uses RSS feeds to offer relevant information as chosen by the user, but it displays the 10,000 articles delivered every day in their entierity. iPad readers can now experience the news in a ‘magazine view’ as well as a list for quick news scanning. Readers can personalise their experience by assigning different sizes and places to their selected topics.

News Republic users can also delver deeper into the story using the TagNav Cloud to bring up related articles. Push notifications alert them when news breaks.

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M-Ticket Supports NFC and Targets Emerging Markets

Sweden’s Mobill has launched a new version its M-Ticket public transport payment service, which includes NFC support, along with multi-trip and multi-passenger tickets.

Customers of 80 per cent of Swedish travel operators can now receive an electronic mobile ticket that is scanned for validation. The service can be adapted for payment options, including via mobile wallet, bank, credit card or mobile phone account, offers different languages, mobile operators and network technologies.

The company has also announced plans for expansion after forming a partnership with Sterna Security to launch a payment platform in India. Mobill’s platform supports 2G, 3G and 4G, ensuring it can be deployed in emerging markets.

“With 80 per cent of Swedish public transportation companies as clients, Mobill now focuses on gaining global market share,” said Joakim Niléhn, CEO.

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Partners Wanted for Solar Mobile Charger Sites

An African company is seeking global partners to help launch its solar powered charging stations in countries with little or no access to grid power.

Solar Way’s charging lockers allow for 14 phones to be securely charged at the same time and can be installed in a retail environment or taken ‘on the road’. The station takes a ‘small fee’ depending on how long the phone takes to charge.

“In order to bring the solar powered charging stations to the largest possible customer base, we are seeking to partner with mobile operators – particularly those with millions of customers off-grid – as well as retailers and other consumer outlets which have large footprints across Africa and other emerging markets,” said Marco Signorini, CEO of Solar Way.

Solar Way has also unveiled Power Stix, solar powered candles with the facility to charge a cell phone. The candle costs fewer than $20, while the average African family living off-grid spends $12 every month on normal candles.

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Nielsen Report Shows Diversity of Global Mobile Users

The mobile consumer landscape is just as fragmented as the rest of the industry, according to The Mobile Consumer Report from Nielsen looking at 10 different countries.

In the UK, Australia and South Korea, many consumers are unlikely to be happy with receiving ads, while people in India, Brazil and China are much more receptive. India, Brazil and Russia are still dominated by feature phones and have less advanced infrastructure, which has an impact on the types of services they can access. 70 per cent of Indian smartphone owners see mobile ads once a week or less.

In South Korea and China, 43 per cent of smartphone owners use their device for mobile shopping. In Turkey it is only 3 per cent. The US is the only country to have a majority of people who use a shopping or retail app at least once a month. Top smartphone shopping activities across the countries surveyed include browsing products, price comparison and reading product reviews. US smartphone owners are the most likely to use their device for in-store price comparison, using coupons and purchasing products.

No to NFC and QR codes?

Text messaging, web browsing, social networking and apps are the most popular activities across all countries, while the mobile wallet, including NFC, is the least popular, followed by QR code scanning. Chinese consumers are the most concerned about having a wide choice of apps available to download. They are joined by American smartphone owners as the heaviest app users. Games are the most popular type of app in China, Australia, Italy and Brazil. 85 per cent of American smartphone owners are regular users of social media.

Nielsen managing director of digital in Europe, David Gosen, said: “Smartphone penetration is rising dramatically and this is changing the relationship between consumers and brands. But patterns of behaviour are very different from one country to another, and this is impacting how brands and carriers need to develop their plans around mobile advertising and mobile shopping. A strategy that works with consumers in one market, won’t necessarily work in another.”

The report covers mobile consumers in Australia, Brazil, China, India, Italy, South Korea, Russia, Turkey the UK and US. 

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More Delegates and Governments Turn Out at MWC

Upwards of 72,000 people from more than 200 countries made it through the doors at this year’s Mobile World Congress, an increase of eight per cent on last year, according to the GSMA.

More than 50 per cent of attendees this year hold c-level positions, including 4,300 CEOs, with executives from China Mobile, Dropbox, Mozilla and Qualcomm among those who took to the stage. There were also 143 government delegations there.

The new Fira Gran Via venue covered 94,000 square metres and included 1,700 visiting companies. The event is estimated to have driven a €19m more to the local economy than the same time last year, totaling €320m. Mobile World Congress will continue to be hosted in Barcelona until 2018.


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Mobile Data Boosts Telefónica but Q4 Profits Drop

Telefónica, Europe’s second-largest fixed and mobile operator, has seen a 27 per cent drop in net profit for Q4 2012, despite a strong performance in Latin America and increasing mobile data revenues.

The debt-ridden Spanish company, which is still the most valuable telco in Europe, saw net profit drop to €3.92bn from Q4 2011 to 2012. Operating profit fell 8.6 per cent to €5.45bn compared to the same period a year earlier, while revenues dropped 2 per cent to €15.84bn. The company has attributed much of the instability during this period to it reducing its business commitments in Italy and Ireland, along with the devaluing of the currency in Venezuela.

Telefónica’s mobile customers totalled 247m at the end of 2012, a four per cent increase on the previous year, with contract customers increasing by seven per cent. This has led to mobile data revenue growth of 12.8 per cent year-on-year. Its operations in Latin America contributed more than 50 per cent of revenues in Q4, surpassing European revenues for the first time.

The company reduced its debt by almost €5bn during the quarter to €51.3bn after a number of asset sales. The company is seeking to cut this figure to below €47bn by the end of 2013.

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Siemens and UK Government Launch Learning Hub to Plug Digital Skills Gap

Siemens has launched an education and careers platform to help inspire more young people in the UK to become engineers.

The digital hub has been ‘explicitly designed to encourage young people to engage with engineering and manufacturing related subjects’, with many software, electronic and mechanical engineers now going on to work in the mobile industry.

The company is working with the Cabinet Office, Department for Education and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to open the education portal for teachers, students and parents to access relevant information. It will be rolled out to 5,000 schools by 2014, aiming to reach more than 1.95m pupils in the first year and 4.5m by 2016.

Siemans launched its first mobile phone in 1985 and released more than 100 handsets before it sold this arm of its business in 2005.

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