Widespread use of the Internet has led to a decline in the prevalence of traditional brick-and-mortar businesses, and this disparity will continue to shift as more people worldwide are provided with Internet access. Buying online is simply more convenient, and most of the time more affordable than traveling to a physical location and purchasing a good or service. Even more convenient, however, is the ability to conduct business and make purchases while on-the-go. With an increasing number of smartphones sprouting up all over the world, making purchases has never been easier. Mobile commerce is a trend we can expect to see entire business strategies built around.
Take Japan, for instance. Japan is a pioneer in m-commerce, but much of what we see there currently is the direction many other countries are heading. Around 93 million Japanese people have the ability to participate in m-commerce. Instead of using a credit card, for instance, many Japanese people simply swipe their phone along a mobile scanning device, which then automates a transaction through a bank account they have linked through their phone. In fact, it gets even easier, as customers without a bank account can simply pay for low cost purchases by having the amount deducted from their mobile phone account.
Mobile commerce is also playing a role in developing countries. In South Africa, only 11 million people own a bank account, while 30 million own a cell phone. A popular application there is WIZZIT, which allows people to pay bills and process transactions through their mobile phones, with the phone account serving a similar purpose to a traditional bank account. A similar arrangement is happening in Kenya with M-PESA, a cell phone based money transfer service which essentially combines the services of a cell phone carrier and a bank.
Lastly, m-commerce and smartphones are making a splash in Australia, as well. Australian retailers are modifying their business models to adapt to m-commerce. One such creation is Lasoo, which allows customers to easily browse online across numerous retailers for a certain product, providing for easy price comparisons. The service has been transformed into an iPhone app, which has only increased its popularity in Australia. The app version of the product lends a hand to brick-and-mortar retailers as well. It can use GPS to find stores nearby where the customer is which sell the product they’re looking for, and provide a map to the location, along with basic store information.
Japan is the standard in m-commerce, but with the advances and interest shown towards m-commerce in other countries, we can expect to see similar arrangements around the world in the near future.