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Mobile payments are a growing force around the globe — from the sophisticated tap ‘n go mechanics of Apple Pay to the continued dominance and evolution of MPesa. One thing we tend to speak less about though is the role of social media in driving mobile transactions.
But it could actually be incredibly significant. According to a new report from Juniper Research, social could be a major driver of mobile money transfers, which are expected to increase by nearly 150% in 2015 to more than 13-billion.
According to the British research house, a major catalyst for this growth is US social payment service Venmo, which now experiences traffic worth nearly US$1-billion a quarter.
Its success is credited with inspiring a number of social media companies to introduce their own services. Snapchat has partnered with Square to deliver a P2P offering, while Facebook launched a US-wide service last month.
In China meanwhile, the research found that both WeChat and Alipay saw significant spikes in P2P (Person to Person) traffic during February 2015. This was the result of result of ‘red envelope’ P2P gifting activity when WeChat users engaged in more than 3.3 billion P2P transactions in just six days over the Chinese New Year period.
The currency of airtime
Further down the pyramid, airtime continues to be a major mobile payments force in developing markets. That said, Juniper Research says there has been a significant increase in the deployment and adoption of services such as micro-lending, savings and micro-insurance.
It also argues that network operators are well positioned to deliver key data for risk assessment in the form of customer top-up histories, social media usage and location data, which could be subjected to analytics to provide information for credit scoring.
“The beauty of mobile-based microinsurance is that, for the first time, the unbanked can be afforded protection against natural disasters,” says report author Dr Windsor Holden. “Without it, a farmer suffering crop failure could lose his livelihood.”
Africa still on top
Africa has long been used as the go-to example of what can be achieved with mobile payments. The Juniper Research report indicates that mobile payments still play an incredibly disruptive role in the region. For instance, there are now 17 markets, the majority in sub-Saharan Africa, where the number of mobile wallets exceeds the number of banked individuals.
Globally, service providers are expected to generate US$2-billion from mobile money services this year, rising to US$4-billion by 2018.