Report: Mobile Transactions to Top $170 Billion in 2012, NFC Payments Years Away 

May 31, 2012

The value of mobile payment transactions will exceed $170 billion by the end of this year, according to new research by global research and advisory group Gartner. The figure represents a 62 percent increase from 2011 and the firm expects the number of consumers using mobile devices to make payments to increase from 160.5 million in 2011 to 212.2 million this year. And, while NFC continues to garner the headlines, mobile transactions will be dominated by Internet purchases in North America (88 percent of mobile transactions by 2016) and Europe (80 percent of mobile transactions by 2016) and SMS in developing countries. NFC, according to Sandy Shen, research director at Gartner, will not be pervasive for at least three years.

“NFC payment involves a change in user behavior and requires collaboration among stakeholders that includes banks, mobile carriers, card networks and merchants,” Shen says. “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.”

Major e-commerce retailers such as Amazon and eBay have developed strong mobile storefronts and have seen significant growth from the mobile channel, Shen says. As for purchases using mobile devices at the POS, Gartner expects a large number of merchants to attempt to recreate the success of Starbucks by introducing their own mobile payment services.