Use of mobile wallets is expected to increase to nearly 113 million U.S. customers (43 percent of the total) by 2017 from around 40 million (20 percent) today, according to a recent report. The report also found that the success of the m-wallet no longer depends on the adoption of near-field communications (NFC) technology, since it can be supported equally well by barcode apps, Bluetooth and cloud services. The study also found that about half of holiday consumer-electronics shoppers used their smartphones as part of the shopping process this year, and that 38 percent of those who planned to spend US $1,000 or more during the holidays used mobile apps for shopping.
The developed world, as we have observed, has been behind the developing world when it comes to adoption of smartphone-based commerce (m-wallets as well as m-banking), but it is apparently catching up. An increase from 20 percent penetration to 43 percent over the next three years would be significant and a clear indicator that this technology has consumer appeal even in economies where lack of traditional banking and commercial infrastructure is not a factor. The removal of the hardware-based limitations of NFC should also drive expansion in this field.