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Mobile banking surges as emerging markets embrace mobile finance

12 May, 2011

- Over 50% of consumers in rapid growth economies* want to use mobile phones for greater access to financial services
- Mobile phones set to become the ‘virtual debit card’ in rapid growth markets where demand exceeds developed markets by 18%

LONDON — Global use of ‘mobile finance’** surged in the past year as the spread of new technology and mobile banking infrastructure drove a huge increase in take-up rates around the world, new research from TNS, the world’s largest custom research company, reveals today.

In countries as diverse as China, Brazil and Kenya the number of new users of mobile banking soared over 100% in 12 months, as banks leapfrogged traditional service models and moved directly to mobile. The increases were not restricted to emerging markets alone though: take-up rates also surged in the UK, USA, Singapore, South Korea and Sweden where banks offered customers new services via their mobile handset. For example, people can manage their money from the mobile phone handset, via SMS message or smartphone app, and check their balances, move money between accounts, pay bills and, increasingly, buy goods and services.

Analysing the findings, James Fergusson, Global Technology Sector Head at TNS, said: “Mobile finance technologies have the tremendous capacity to be transformational in rapid growth markets, empowering consumers by giving them greater access to financial services.

“The necessity, marked interest and the blossoming mobile finance infrastructure means that countries such as Brazil and China have the right ingredients to drive mobile finance growth, not just in their own markets, but globally as well.”

The research has been released as part of TNS Mobile Life, an annual report on mobile consumer usage, and reveals a wealth of opportunities for banks, retailers and mobile service providers to develop for existing and potential customers.

Percentage increase in mobile banking usage from 2010 to 2011:

Country Percentage of consumers 
using in 2010 
Percentage of consumers
using in 2011 
Percentage increase 
China 10 25 150
Brazil 10 21  110 
Kenya 18 200
USA 11  22  100 

In the UK the proportion of people using mobile banking increased from 9.7% in 2010 to 20.4% in 2011, while in the USA the rates from 11.4% to 21.9%. In Sweden it was greater still: 8.1% to 20%.

And while adoption rates increased, desire for mobile banking in areas where it is not widespread is strong, peaking in sub-Saharan Africa, where almost two-thirds (63%) of mobile owners expressed an interest in mobile banking.

Bob Neuhaus, Global Finance Sector Head at TNS, said: “A significant proportion of the world’s population does not have access to banking services. Making mobile banking easy to access in these markets will not only help create a more sophisticated consumer marketplace and drive development of the banking sector, but also provides a huge opportunity for the mobile industry.”

“Our insights from the Mobile Life study demonstrate that in more mature markets, mobile banking is simply a matter of convenience, and largely an extension of the PC online experience – allowing the same online convenience, while mobile; however in developing markets mobile may provide an entry point to banking for millions of ‘unbanked’ people, in countries where banking infrastructure is poor, and banking restrictions create barriers.”

Emerging markets outpace the West in usage and demand for mobile wallet
Mobile money extends the concept by turning handsets into mobile wallets, capable of being loaded up with and storing money. As well as delivering new services in developed markets, mobile wallets can bring people without bank accounts (the unbanked) into the wider financial world and help drive economic and social development. The Mobile Life research shows that mobile wallet adoption has more than doubled across emerging markets, as they take advantage of the new opportunities it offers – a much higher take-up rate than in developed countries.

TNS Mobile Life demonstrates that developed countries such as the USA, Singapore and Hong Kong have made minimal progression in mobile wallet adoption over the past year. The USA moved from 6% in 2010 to 8% in 2011, Singapore increased from 10% to 13%, Hong Kong from 16% to 17%. In contrast, mobile wallet usage in Chile was below 1% in 2010, but has risen to 7% in 2011 - just one percentage point below the USA and higher than Australia (6%), France (5%) and the Netherlands (5%).

Percentage increase in mobile wallet usage from 2010 to 2011:

Country Percentage of consumers 
using in 2010 
Percentage of consumers
using in 2011 
Percentage increase 
China 9 21 133
Brazil 9 20  122
Kenya 10 25 150
USA 6 8 33

China driving global mobile finance growth
The increased adoption and demand for mobile finance in China present a huge opportunity for companies to reach new customers. The financial services that capture the highest interest in China are paying bills (25%), getting money out of the bank (15%), and receiving wages (15%). China’s usage of mobile wallet is already a considerable 52% above the global average and fewer than a quarter (23%) of Chinese consumers say they are not interested in mobile wallet.

“The past few years have shown us the tremendous potential for emerging markets to ‘leap-frog’ more developed markets in adopting new technology. Our findings from this research suggest that the uptake of mobile banking services is set to follow this trend,” comments Fergusson. He concludes, “In countries across Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Emerging Asia where there is high mobile phone prevalence, the lack of robust financial services and a need for efficient payment methods has contributed to very strong appeal for mobile finance. It’s a logical fit.”

*Countries included in the “high growth potential” or “emerging markets” grouping of TNS Mobile Life are:
Tier one emerging markets - S Arabia, UAE, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, China, Indonesia, S Africa, Chile, Morocco
Tier two emerging markets - India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Thailand, Nigeria, Kenya, Philippines, Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, Guatemala & Costa Rica, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda.

** Mobile finance refers to using a mobile phone to make payments and access bank account details. It includes both mobile banking, whereby consumers are able to use a mobile phone for various financial services such as accessing bank account details and managing accounts, and mobile wallet, where consumers can use their mobiles to purchase goods at point of sale.

About TNS Mobile Life  
Mobile Life is an annual investigation from TNS designed to provide a deep understanding of today’s global mobile device consumers and the future impact mobile will have on our digital landscape.
34,000* interviews with mobile users across over 43 countries provides real insight into how consumers across the world are using and interacting with mobile technology and delivers a holistic understanding of the end-to-end consumer experience and how this will change in the future.
Invaluable insights to support:
Offer development
Identify current and future usage patterns for features, services and Apps
Brand strategy
Build strategies across the mobile ecosystem, understand brand strengths, weakness and collaboration opportunities
Track the consumer purchase process and drivers of purchase
Cross-platform planning
Prioritise your marketing strategies across mobile, PC and tablet based on current usage patterns and future preference

Base for the study:
TNS interviewed over 34,000 16-60 year-old consumers in 43 countries, using a mix of face-to-face and online questionnaires, dependent on the market. The study focuses on the mobile consumer - both those who already use mobile devices and those who are ‘prospects’ likely to start using in the near future. In many markets this means covering the entire market, so the samples are nationally representative, but in other markets the focus is on urban populations.

Countries covered in the study:
Argentina, Australia, *Benin, *Brazil, *Cameroon, Canada, *Chile, *China, *Costa Rica, France, Germany, *Ghana, *Guatemala, Hong Kong, *India, *Indonesia, Italy, Japan, *Kenya, Korea, Malaysia, *Mexico, *Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, *Nigeria, *Pakistan, *Philippines, *Russia, *South Africa, *Saudi Arabia, *Senegal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, *Tanzania, *Thailand, *UAE, *Uganda, UK, USA, *Vietnam.

* Countries where base is urban population.

About TNS
TNS is the global leader in custom market research delivering actionable insights and research-based business advice to clients around the globe so they can make more effective business decisions. TNS offers comprehensive industry knowledge within the Consumer, Technology, Finance, Automotive and Political & Social sectors, supported by a unique product offering that stretches across the entire range of marketing and business issues, specializing in product development & innovation, brand & communication, stakeholder management, retail & shopper, and qualitative research. Delivering best-in-class service across more than 80 countries, TNS is dedicated to discovering growth opportunities for its clients in an ever-changing world. Through its pioneering and innovative culture, TNS understands the latest marketing challenges and research techniques, being the first to discover and solve new marketing issues for clients.

DISCOVER – A changing world: New territories, new media, new opportunities.

TNS is part of Kantar, one of the world's largest insight, information and consultancy networks.

Please visit for more information.

About Kantar
Kantar is one of the world's largest insight, information and consultancy networks. By uniting the diverse talents of its 13 specialist companies, the group aims to become the pre-eminent provider of compelling and inspirational insights for the global business community. Its 28,500 employees work across 100 countries and across the whole spectrum of research and consultancy disciplines, enabling the group to offer clients business insights at each and every point of the consumer cycle. The group’s services are employed by over half of the Fortune Top 500 companies.

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