Mobile transaction volume is growing explosively: Mobile is now a powerful force in shaping the payments industry, particularly credit and debit card payments. A significant portion of card-powered e-commerce transactions take place on tablet or smartphone devices. Tablets and smartphones are also powering transactions at physical stores — on the consumer and merchant side — through apps, scannable QR codes, and attachable card readers that transform devices into cash registers.
Defining mobile payments and transactions: There's a lot of confusion out there about what is and what isn't a "mobile payment," and we'd like to reiterate our definition. A mobile payment occurs when a mobile, Internet-connected device (tablet, smartphone, or in the future ... a smart watch or Google Glass) is used to facilitate a transaction that might otherwise have taken place using a physical credit card, check, or cash, at a physical store or point-of-sale. Mobile transactions are a larger category that includes these payments, but also includes mobile commerce, or e-commerce channeled by an app or mobile website (e.g., Amazon's iPhone app).
The U.S. is still lagging behind, but growth is skyrocketing: Mobile transactions will account for about 2% of all credit and debit card volume in the United States in 2013. But, since 2008, mobile transactions have enjoyed 118% annual average growth. Markets in Africa and Asia-Pacific actually see a much larger share of mobile-driven transactions.
Consumer uptake has exploded: Smartphone users are quickly adopting mobile wallets, payments apps, and QR-scanning apps to facilitate offline and online purchases.
Merchants are rushing to incorporate card readers: Mobile device attachments can transform tablets into replacements for clunky point-of-sale systems. They're a perfect fit for small to medium-sized businesses, or SMBs. Recent survey data shows that two-fifths of U.S. SMBs have adopted card readers.
The industry is ripe for consolidation: Payments app developers, niche technology providers, and small payments start-ups are enjoying massive growth and helping to push forward innovation. Look for larger digital payments companies to acquire these upstarts, much like PayPal recently did with mobile payments provider Braintree.
At the same time, mobile payments solutions continue to proliferate, so the market is no less crowded. For example, Amazon's new "Pay With Amazon" product allows the 215 million active Amazon account-holders to use their payment info as they shop [...]