According to research compiled by SapientNitro, mobile payments should spread to the global mainstream in just one to four years.
Three types of mobile payments dominate the marketplace today: m-commerce (uses a mobile browser and online wallets), m-payments (uses mobile apps), and m-wallets (replaces your entire wallet). And consumers can access several forms of transaction on their mobile devices, including scannable barcodes, mobile coupons, and self-checkouts.
While some hurdles still persist—like privacy, interoperability, lack of business and consumers critical mass—the advantages (such as convenience, speed and accessibility) will play major roles in the adoption of mobile payments. For instance, 87% of people in the UK welcome the convenience of mobile payments, while others worry about the privacy factor (79% in Asia). And 49% of consumers in the US find shopping on a smartphone awkward. But countries with several unbanked consumers are driving the growth in the adoption of mobile payments (i.e. Kenya). In some countries telecom operators are becoming also banks, and vice-versa in some other countries.
The business model with the best chances of success is the partnership between financial institutions and mobile players. 4G combined with NFC chips could be a key enabler in the proliferation of mobile payments.
The most widely adopted category of mobile payments is specialist online systems. The other areas with great prospects are carrier billing, contactless card systems, mBanking, and mWallet.
In 2011 there were 93 million NFC-enabled mobile phones, 141 million mobile payments, and $240 billion worth of mobile purchases made globally.