We’re learning to trust mcommerce as security fears fall

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People have been hyping mobile as the next big thing in payments for years now (forgetting of course that it has been the norm for people across Africa for years now), but it worries about security have always hampered it from taking off at a global level. Now however, it looks like attitudes are changing.

In its latest quarterly report which is focussed on the global mobile advertising industry, mobile media company BuzzCity reveals that the appetite for mobile commerce is at an all-time high, with consumer confidence improving.

Previous fears over security of payments, it says, have fallen three percent from where they were a year ago.

BuzzCity Dr CEO KF Lai reckons that education has played a massive role in getting people to trust mcommerce: “It is clear that consumers are now far more receptive to mobile commerce than ever before; this comes as a result of continuous education by the mobile industry to overcome concerns such as trust and security, combined with falling data costs and increased capabilities of smartphones and tablets.”

The unstoppable proliferation of mobile devices, along with the convenience they provide, has put online stores and the ability to compare and research purchases directly into the hands of consumers.

According to BuzzCity most people use their phones to “browse and buy” — search engines and social media are a major source of information, along with 14% using review and comparison sites, and 17% relying on friends’ recommendations. However, mobile ads still influence a lot of purchases. Around 17% of the people surveyed claimed they’d been persuaded to buy via an advert. Interestingly emerging market countries like Nigeria and South Africa are near the top (fourth and fifth respectively) in the table of top 50 countries ranked by number of adverts served. Mobile advert traffic in Kenya meanwhile grew by 45% annually and India saw four quarters of double-digit growth and closed off with a year-on-year growth of 46%.

Convenience is also becoming a key factor when it comes to mobile shopping. Seventy four percent of people use mobile for last-minute purchases. This is linked to the increasing prevalence of mobile vouchers and QR codes to drive people to connect mobile with the offline world.

This increased consumer confidence has had on mcommerce, has seen a shift in what people are buying. They’re not only purchasing digital products for their phones in the form of entertainment content (video, games, music) but also physical products (clothes and electronics). The latter may yet outpace entertainment as key products driving mobile commerce in the UK (56%), US (37%), South Africa (33%) and Nigeria (35%).

“Mobile is now the first screen for many. Our research shows that there are many influences involved in consumers’ decisions when shopping via a mobile device. Marketers must ensure that they put strategy before tactics and take into consideration user behaviour as well as multi-screen viewing. Any brand embarking on global campaigns should bear in mind that consumer reliance on these services can differ greatly by region, and merchants need to understand these cultural nuances by localising content strategies and apportioning resources accordingly,” says Lai.

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