The number of worldwide mobile payment users will total 33 million this year and will rise to 104 million by 2011, says analyst Gartner.
Short message service (SMS) is currently the dominant mobile payment technology, driven by mobile money transfers, and it will remain so through to 2011, says Gartner.
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The analyst defines mobile payment as paying for a product or service using mobile technologies such as SMS, wireless application protocol (WAP), unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) and near field communications (NFC). It excludes telebanking by using a mobile phone to call a service centre, as well as mobile ticketing where the ticket value has been prepaid and stored on the phone.
"Mobile payment could bring revenue opportunities for carriers and, potentially, banks, if deployed properly," said Gartner analyst Sandy Shen.
"The business case is more obvious for mobile carriers than banks. However, banks can justify the investment if they look at mobile as an extension of their existing channels and bundle payments with additional banking services."
The Asia/Pacific region has the most mobile payment users, said Gartner, with a projected 28 million users in 2008 - 85% of the worldwide total.
Western Europe is expected to have 499,000 users this year, with one million in North America.