January 30, 2013

Consumer Trust in m-Commerce Soars

By Hisham Isa, Vice President (Marketing)

Consumer confidence in mobile commerce is at an all-time high.

Over the past two years, all sorts of companies -- from SingTel and Vodafone to Starbucks and Google -- have rolled out mobile wallets and other types of payment plans.

A number of observers - including those of us here at BuzzCity - thought that the large number and variety of offerings would confuse consumers. We argued that their lack of depth would discourage adoption, as services would work in one store but not another.

We were wrong.

In fact, the opposite has occurred. The publicity surrounding the launch of new m-payment services, the partnerships, the continuing promotions have served to educate the public and put their minds at ease.

According to our latest BuzzCity survey, only 3% of mobile users are worried about the security of mobile payments, down from 27% a year earlier.

We polled mobile users from Bangladesh to Venezuela, in large western markets like the US and UK as well as developing economies in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The response was clear across the board: the vast majority of consumers are open to making payments and shopping with their phones.

In addition, the types of things that people are buying via mobile is expanding. While digital products like games, music and videos are still important, physical goods like clothes and electronics is driving m-commerce in a number of markets, particularly the UK, US, South Africa and Nigeria.

Companies like Google and PayPal that originated and are most strongly associated with the online world are using mobility to branch into brick and mortar payments.

PayPal is partnering with gas stations, convenience stores and retailers like Abercrombie & Fitch and Home Depot. Simply use a smartphone to scan a QR code, then log in to PayPal or pay with a credit card. Discounts and loyalty coupons are automatically factored into the transaction.

Valentines' shopping in Singapore: PayPal, QR codes and a train station ad.
Photo courtesy of SGEntrepreneurs.com.

PayPal even offers merchants a credit card reader that attaches to their phone, a service that appears to be marketed to vendors who are on the move.

The rise in consumer trust meanwhile is accompanied by an increase in transactions, perhaps nowhere more than in South Asia. More than half of mobile users in Pakistan (66%), Bangladesh (63%), Sri Lanka (59%) and India (53%) have shopped - and intend to continue shopping - on mobile.

Of course, this is no time to become complacent. Mobile payments still have a long way to go before they are as commonplace and run-of-the-mill as cash and credit cards.

Seventeen percent of our survey respondents say they are not likely to buy on mobile.


Nearly half of this 17% people do not have credit or debit cards.

Other respondents lament that the sites they visit are not optimised for mobile or simply that the things they want to buy are not available on mobile sites.

So there are a couple clear lessons for merchants here: optimise your sites for mobile and and increase the selection of goods available for mobile purchase.

In addition, don't forget that many consumers now use their phones to compare prices before going shopping.

So for merchants, this means you need to stay on top of mobile search engine optimisation as well as social media and price comparison sites. Consumer reliance on these services varies by region, so it's important to localise your content strategies and apportion resources accordingly.

Finally, for those who were holding back waiting to see how consumers would react, get off the sidelines and onto the playing field!

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