KEY POINTS

  • Consumers still want mobile P2P services, and they’re turning to them. Individuals pay their peers on a regular basis, and as smartphones are increasingly used as computing devices, these consumers look to such services for fast and easy ways to pay. 
  • We forecast that mobile P2P will rise to $336 billion in 2021. That’s worth 46% of total US P2P volume. We’ve opted to scale up our forecast because of declines in cash, shifts in generational spending power, new players driving new audiences to the space, and unprecedented gains among key ecosystem players.
  • Monetizing P2P is more important than ever. Initially, P2P was a valuable onboarding tool for companies, and when it was still a small segment, taking it on at little value or a loss didn’t have major implications. But as volume grows and user bases scale fast, finding ways to monetize quickly should be a priority for firms looking to stay ahead. There are numerous ways to do this, ranging from integrating the P2P function into new environments, to charging for value-added services, to selling data.  
  • New technology could put some apps ahead of their peers. P2P continues to rely on networks, especially for informal, social transactions. But rather than having a large network, it’s becoming important for firms to understand their user bases and the networks within them. This means that chat apps, and leveraging bot and AI technology, may offer a distinct advantage.
  • Competition could abate as the space changes. It’s plausible that servicing different networks will allow major players in the space to fall into a “niche,” or that new entrants may disrupt third parties. That means finding ways to monetize, and doing so while pushing loyalty, is now more important than ever.

Introduction

Peer-to-peer (P2P) payments, defined as informal payments made from one person to another, have long been a prominent feature of the payments industry. That’s because individuals transfer funds to each other on a regular basis, whether it's to make a recurring payment, reimburse a friend, or split a dinner bill. 

Cash and checks have historically dominated the P2P ecosystem, but with smartphones morphing into a primary computing device, digital platforms — like Venmo and Google Wallet — have enabled customers, who are turning away from cash, to make these payments [...]