At the turn of a new decade, smartphones are becoming ubiquitous, and a necessity rather than just a convenience. The latest technological breakthroughs in mobile payment are bound to further revolutionize our way of life, as more consumers embrace new wireless solutions to increase productivity and to meet the essential demands of today's fast paced lifestyles.
Meanwhile, mobile payment, which is synonymous with post or pre-paid payment of a product or service through a portable electronic device, such as a smartphone, is gradually entering the consumers' daily lexicon.
Although mobile payments first became popular in Asia and Europe, analysts agree that the United States is far more ahead of the curve than previously perceived. In its November 2010 report, the Aite Group forecasts that U.S. mobile bill payments will reach US$214 billion in gross dollar volume in 2015, up from US$16 billion in 2010.
This growth projection is a testament to customers' flexibility and willingness to adopt a new technology. Over the past 12 to 18 months, mobile payments have become more popular due to "rapid consumer adoption of smartphones, carriers' and handset manufacturers' adoption of NFC chips, consumers' continued embrace of m-commerce, and a nationwide increase in mobile banking adoption" (Source: Aite Group).
In 2010, TIO Networks launched its mobile bill payment platform to empower tech-savvy customers to manage and pay their wireless, utility, cable and other bills anytime and from anywhere using their smartphone. Thanks to this initiative, utility customers in Northern and Central California can now download the PG&E mobile bill pay application from Apple's iTunes app store for free, instantly access their account balance in multiple languages (i.e. English and Spanish), and pay their bills in real-time with Visa, MasterCard, and bank account via their iOS powered devices, such as iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. TIO's mobile payment platform also enables billers to build a direct marketing relationship, and to promote their products and services via customers' smartphones.
Industry experts foresee the transformation of smartphones into personal mobile wallets (m-wallets) in the next phase of the mobile payment revolution. The m-wallet technology enables consumers to load funds to smartphones, to transfer funds from one mobile device to another, and to use mobile phones for in-store purchases.
The long-term growth prospect of the mobile payment will be decided by consumers whose needs and preferences will ultimately fuel the next round of innovation.