Mobile Payments: A Guide to the Growing Market in Your Pocket

Cell phones represent the killer combination of their owner’s identity, presence and wallet — and they are nearly ubiquitous, with an estimated five billion global active subscriptions predicted before the end of 2010. As such, using phones to pay for things provides a huge growth opportunity in the mobile market. Generator Research recently predicted that the worldwide market for mobile payments would grow to $633.4 billion by 2014, up from $68.7 billion in 2009.
So, after many years of promise, mobile payments are finally finding their stride — but it’s not just one stride. In writing about the space, I admit I’ve been confused many times by what people actually mean when they say “mobile payments.” Is it when people buy things on their phone? Within a mobile application? Using their phone number? Using their physical handset? When they pay their bills from their phone? When they split a tab via text message?

The answer is yes — in fact, all of these are rapidly growing businesses. In the hopes that I could help other people more easily understand the mobile payments space, I spent some time talking to many of the players about their business. I then wrote a longer post for GigaOM Pro, our subscription research service, that lays out the different subsets, challenges and opportunities they face.

Companies mentioned in this feature include Allopass, Apple, AT&T, Bling Nation, Boku, ClairMail, Danal, Facebook, FeliCa Networks, Firethorn, Globe, mFoundry, Mopay, M-PESA, O2 Money, Oi Paggo, Obopay, Smart, Square, PayPal, Venmo, Verizon, Visa, ViVOtech and Zong. I hope you’ll check it out!