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Worldwide mobile payment transaction values will surpass US$171.5 billion in 2012, says market analyst Gartner. The number of mobile payment users will reach 212.2 million this year. "The mobile transaction volume and value will average 42 percent annual growth between 2011 and 2016. We are forecasting a market worth $617 billion with 448 million users by 2016," says Sandy Shen, research director at Gartner.


"This will bring opportunities for service and solution providers to customise their offerings. The mobile payments market will experience fragmented services and solutions for the next two years." Technology providers will have to cater their solutions to the local market that will be using different access technologies, business models and under different regulatory conditions.


However, there will be segments that cannot be served by the global players. The demand of these segments can be met by specialised or local players who can understand the segment and have solutions to meet the challenges. SMS remains the dominant access technology in developing markets because of the constraints of mobile devices and the ubiquity of SMS.


Web/WAP is the preferred access technology in North America and Western Europe where mobile Internet is activated on user devices. Gartner expects Web/WAP access to account for 88 percent of transactions in North America and 80 percent in Western Europe by 2016. Near Field Communication (NFC) transactions will remain low through 2015, although growth will start to pick up from 2016.


"NFC payment involves a change in user behavior and requires collaboration among stakeholders that includes banks, mobile carriers, card networks and merchants," explains Shen. "It takes time for both to happen, so we don't expect NFC payments to come into the mass market before 2015. In the meantime, ticketing, rather than retail payment, will drive NFC transactions." Merchandise purchases will drive transactions in North America and Western Europe. These will include e-commerce purchases where users buy online, as well as in-store purchases.


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