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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Google, Apple Expand Micropayment Systems for Web Content and Mobile Purchasing

In 2009, New York Times columnist David Carr wrote that "with newspapers entering bankruptcy even as their audience grows, the threat is not just to the companies that own them, but also to the news itself." Will enhanced technology make micropayments any more attractive or compelling now than twenty years ago? "Remember that when iTunes began," Carr continues, "the music industry was being decimated by file sharing. By coming up with an easy user interface and obtaining the cooperation of a broad swath of music companies, Mr. Jobs helped pull the business off the brink. He has been accused of running roughshod over the music labels, which are a fraction of their former size. But they are still in business."

According to industry trade group CTIA, wireless data traffic doubled from 2010 to 2011, to an incredible 341.2 petabytes -= 341,200 trillion bytes of data. Since voice traffic remained constant, this shows that people are clearly finding new ways to use their cellphones. The adoption rates in Africa are most compelling.

The 2012 Afrobarometer survey found that 93% of their survey communities had cellphone service - amazing when compared to only 23% having a post office, 30% a police station, 51% a health clinic and 82% an electricity grid.

A recent World Bank report finding that in Kenya "basic mobile savings is already partially filling the gap, answering the acute need many Kenyans, particularly the poor, have for a secure place to store funds." For developing countries, without the existing financial infrastructure, micropayments has already taken a strong hold.

Clearly mobile is hot today - and a major device for the 21st century for communication, information and now finance as well: "Mobile services are changing the way that billions of people around the world live, work and socialise," notes Michael O'Hara, chief marketing officer for the international trade group GSMA, "and we are seeing a steady evolution towards a fully digital life."

Timetric's recent market research report on mobile banking reports that "at the beginning of 2011, 30% of mobile phone users in developed markets used a mobile banking service on their mobile phones at least once. By 2015 however, a number of forecasts expect at least 50% of US mobile users to be conducting transactions from their mobile devices."

I was fortunate to be able to look at this new phenomenon for a NewsBreak for Information Today. Google, Apple, Walmart,PayPal and now Isis are some of the non-traditional companies hoping to move into 21st century banking. You might want to give my report a read. Are you ready to switch from banks and cash to mobile? Who do you trust with your banking?