Nearly 400 million mobile phone users worldwide are expected to use their handsets for mobile money transfer by 2018, up from just under 150 million this year, according to a new report from Juniper Research.
Growth is expected to be driven primarily by deployments of domestic money transfer services, with multinational network operators increasingly launching products on a group-wide rather than an ad-hoc basis.
The report - Mobile Money Transfer & Remittances: Domestic & International Markets 2013-2018 - stressed the need for service providers to ensure that support infrastructure, including an extensive agent network, needed to be in place well in advance of commercial launch. It argued that the agent: subscriber ratio should be no greater than 1:500 to ensure a high proportion of active users, with strong agent concentrations at the outset in key urban areas within developing markets.
The report also identified the key criteria for what it termed "Mobile Money Incubators", assessing the optimal conditions to nurture mobile money service deployment and development, and highlighting markets which fulfilled these criteria.
Mobile money taxes "severe brake on growth"
However, the report cautioned against the imposition of taxes of mobile money services, such as those recently introduced in Kenya and Uganda.
According to report author, Dr Windsor Holden: "While the impact on the Kenyan market appears to have been limited thus far, we should point out that this is the most mature mobile money market. The introduction of a similar tax in a market in the early stages of service adoption could serve as a severe brake on growth or make potential service providers reconsider planned deployments."
Other findings from the report include:
• Airtime top-up is now viewed as the primary mobile international remittance opportunity.
• Money transfer platforms are becoming increasingly modular and flexible to enable integration of future bolt-on services.