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Saturday, 15 September 2012

mCommerce - it's time to do it

Recent surveys of the mCommerce landscape in India indicates that it is rapidly being adopted (though numbers are small) and is more than ready to take off in a big way. The message to companies - if you are not yet in this space, you stand to miss out on a big opportunity.

The basic facts about the mobile internet story are now well known - the huge user base, the growing number of 2G/3G users, many of whom will taste the internet for the first time on their mobile phones. One would think that these users would hesitate to jump into mCommerce, preferring to first browse, check mail, news etc. before evolving to mobile transactions.

In reality, it's probably happening the other way around. When internet came to India, PC users took their time to embrace online purchases and e-commerce - security of online transactions and discomfort with buying from an unknown source or without trying were cited as the mot common reasons. It appears that many mobile users will skip these barriers - and even more interestingly, mCommerce may in itself be a motivation to get onto the mobile internet. The convenience of paying bills online, at any time or checking account balance, and the ease of booking or cancelling e-tickets have been cited as prime reasons to buy a smartphone, in research conducted by Bright Angles. In fact, most smartphone users are likely to have transactional apps on their phone.

The figures bear this out - in just one year since May 2011, mobile transactions have registered a growth of 200%, rising from a value of Rs. 0.91 billion to Rs. 2.86 billion. And the number of transactions has nearly tripled from 1.28 million to 3.34 million. This puts India, along with China as one of the fastest growing mCommerce markets in the world. Money transfers, e-ticketing and airtime top ups will logically contribute to the bulk of mCommerce more than retail purchases.