Mobile commerce on growth path in APAC

Consumers embracing their mobiles as access point for online content and shopping needs and upward trend likely to continue, reveals new survey.

The Asia-Pacific market is prime for mobile commerce, with an increasing number of users reaching for their devices to support their shopping decisions, according to a new survey commissioned by industry group MEF.

Conducted by OnDevice Research, the survey found that 84 percent of Singaporeans used their mobile device to either research or purchase goods, where the bulk of their mobile buys, at 40 percent, were digital goods. In addition, 74 percent of Singapore respondent accessed the mobile Web on a daily basis.

In Indonesia, some 63 percent of respondents delivered airtime remittance via mobile.

Conducted in June 2011, the global survey polled 8,530 consumers in nine countries including India, Indonesia, Singapore, Brazil, the United States and United Kingdom.

"The survey reveals that Asian consumers, more than any other, first go to their phones to source, service and support commercial decisions," MEF Asia Chairman Colin Miles, told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail interview Friday. "For example, when it comes to remittance, the Asia-Pacific region is particularly adept at understanding this way of supporting families and friends back home. Most mobile operators have taken quickly to offering airtime transfer and other ancillary financial services using mobile as the primary platform."

Mobile banking was also prominent in the Singapore market, according to the survey, where 32 percent of respondents regularly checked their balance through their mobile device and nearly a fifth paid their bills on a mobile device.

Among respondents in Indonesia who made purchases via their mobile, 19 percent did so through a retailer's mobile storefront, while 41 percent bought their item through their network operator in the last six months.

Andrew Bud, global chairman of MEF, noted that consumers worldwide were embracing mobile as a chief access point for their content and commerce needs. "Mobile is an essential platform for companies wishing to drive consumer engagement and monetize their goods, services and digital products," Bud said in the report.

Delving into reasons behind this behavior, Miles explained that mobile content had conventionally been driven by the purchase of digital goods but the level of mobile consumer adoption had become increasingly sophisticated in recent years.

"Whether it is coupon redemption, price comparisons or just getting advice on a purchase decision in store, the mobile phone has become central to many people's shopping culture in the past 18 months," he said.

Asked how mobile commerce will further develop in Asia-Pacific, Miles said the pace of change will grow even more rapidly with more retail outlets enabling payment accounts and wallets to form in-store selection and payment.

"The industry is eyeing the potential for unleashing the so-called 'unbanked' population of countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, India and China, with 'low-value' retail transaction consummated purely on the mobile," he added.