78% Of People Have Made A Purchase Through A Smartphone

David BoltonDavid Bolton
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“If you neglect to offer services and products through the mobile channel, you will lose.”

Paying for stuff with your phone … turns out it’s not such a crazy idea after all.

A report by the Mobile Ecosystem Forum said that 78% of people have made at least one purchase on a mobile device in the last six months. That includes buying through apps, mobile websites or using the phone as a payment device in a store. According to the recent MEF Mobile Money Report, physical goods are the most common item purchased, with 36% of people using their smartphone to buy an object—a rise of 12% since 2014.

Ordering food or drink on a mobile device has increased. Around 26% of people said that they had bought food over the phone, an increase of 15% since the MEF last studied the mobile money market just over two years ago. As the number of dedicated food ordering apps has increased, the convenience of being able to see a range of food options in one place is a plausible reason why, the report said.

Digital purchases have not followed the path of their physical counterparts. In the last two years, overall spend in mobile shopping for digital content has dropped from 37% to 30%, although people are willing to pay for mobile apps. The report said that 33% of people had paid for a mobile app in the last six months, a rise of 17% since 2014.

MEF’s Mobile Money Report was conducted in association with payment processing company Wirecard during the second financial quarter of 2016 and involved almost 6,000 mobile consumers. Nine countries were studied, which included the United States, United Kingdom, China, France and Germany but the report also gathered data from consumers in Brazil, India, Nigeria and South Africa.

“Clearly, the migration from desktop to mobile can only accelerate. The always connected smartphone becomes more powerful with every new release,” said Wirecard’s executive vice product of global product strategy Christian Von Hammel-Bonten. “So my message to all businesses around the world is: if you neglect to offer services and products through the mobile channel, you will lose—not only your customers but also your business.”

mobile payments chart

Chinese Consumers Are Enthusiastic Mobile Shoppers

According to the report, China is the undisputed leader in mobile transactions.

Almost 90% of Chinese people have made a recent purchase from their phone, with 47% using a mobile app to do so. The global average for purchases via an app is around 31%, the report said. Chinese consumers also use mobile wallets more than any other country; 38% of shoppers will use their smartphone to pay for something in a shop compared to a global average of 18%.

Both the U.S. and U.K. have a respectable level of mobile transaction history with 80% of people shopping on their phones. What is more interesting is that emerging markets have embraced mobile payments. Nigeria is second only to China with 83% of people buying items on their phone. South Africa and India are also above the global average of 78% with 82% and 80% of consumers, respectively.

mobile payments method
Source: Mobile Ecosystem Forum, Mobile Money Report

Over the last two years, mobile wallets have started to make small inroads into traditional purchase habits.

In 2014, the global average for payments made via “The Pays”—Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay—was 8%. In 2016, that number increased to 18%, MEF said. Only three countries exceed or equal the global average at the moment—China (38%), the U.S. (22%) and India (18%)—but every country included in the report has significantly increased the number of people who pay with their phone.

“Apple Pay was surely a key factor. The service puts a virtual card inside the iPhone, which can be used for contactless purchases in-store,” said the authors of the report. “However, it has hardly entered the mainstream. A study by PYMNTs in 2016 found only one person in 20 who can access the feature actually uses it. But the fact that the company took Apple Pay into so many new countries in 2016 must have made a difference.”

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