China leads the way in mobile money transfers – for now

mobile money
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Driven by a fast-growing social element P2P mobile money transfers will see enormous growth over the next five years. This is according to a new report by Juniper Research that points to the number of transactions hitting and possibly exceeding 200 billion by 2024.

China currently leads the world in social money transfers but this is partly because of the Chinese New Year ‘red envelope’ tradition which will account for fully 68% of all transfers this year, driven by Alipay and WeChat Pay who use the occasion to promote their platforms.

Mobile money transfers has two main audiences.

The first is Millennials. The cashless element and ease of use to a segment of society that are rightly termed digital natives make services such as Venmo in the United States very compelling.

The second – and largest – audience is in the emerging economies of Asia and particularly Africa. In fact, it will be the growth of mobile money solutions in Africa that will push China’s share of the transfer market down to 57% by 2024.

Already, solutions such as the much discussed and highly successful M-Pesa are putting telecoms operators in the mobile money driving seat – one of the few areas where operators are really taking advantage of this kind of opportunity.

Of course there are questions about what will drive or hold back mobile money transfers. Security is one and will be a barrier for older users. Security is also a problem in countries across Africa where methods of getting hold of a mobile money account are particularly creative (and still sometimes involve dressing up as a police man).

The other question which will influence this is how established social media platforms are allowed to operate in this area. While Facebook led Libra is now hitting the barriers of regulation and licensing in markets such as North America, what it does in other areas will have a huge impact.

It would not be too risky to guess that, whether or not Facebook is halted in America, it will press ahead into its moral high ground and will try and bring the internet, social media and mobile money to as many countries as it can across Asia and Africa.

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