Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mobile Commerce Provides Lots of Value, and Not Just Transaction Fees

U.S. Mobile Payments GDV (Source: Aite Group)You might think that mobile payments are significant because they represent a potential shift of transaction fee streams from one set of providers to another.

That's true.  AITE Group, for example, in January 2010, it estimated that mobile payments would reach $214 billion in 2015, up from $16 billion in 2010, a 68 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2010 and 2015. U.S. Mobile Payments

To the extent that all those payments will involve a transaction fee earned by some entity, you see the upside. But the value doesn't stop there. 

To give you some idea of what that can mean, eBay Chief Executive John Donahoe said otal payment volume transmitted by mobile devices through PayPal's system will be more than $3.5 billion in 2011. That helps PayPal.

But there are other ways value can be created. EBay, which owns PayPal, also uses smart phone apps like Red Laser, which lets shoppers scan bar codes to check prices online and at other retailers nearby. You might wonder what value that provides. For one thing, it allows eBay to do “comparison pricing” that retailers routinely conduct, but more efficiently, since eBay can rely on its users to do the work. PayPal mobile payments volume is doing similar things, with a twist. On Dec. 10, 2011, Amazon will offer comparison shoppers a five percent discount, up to $5, on any item whose price is checked, in a retail store, using the Amazon “Price Check” app, and which is purchased on Amazon within 24 hours of the price check.

Though you might say this is a test of how much sales volume potentially can be shifted by offering such discounts, it also is a way for Amazon to gather quite a lot of infomation on retail pricing at brick and mortar locations selling the same merchandise that Amazon is selling.

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