The world of mobile is growing quickly, nobody needs convincing of that. Mobile payments and transactions have been of particular interest recently; phones have been gradually consolidating our “daily-carry” items such as MP3 players, cameras, watches, and now of course the wallet. Yesterday, the research group Gartner released its findings regarding mobile transactions. The results are interesting to consider.
The research group is forecasting an increase of 44% from 2012, which saw $163,000,000,000 in mobile payments – that’s billion with a very big “B”. This percent increase however can be considered both small and conservative when one factors in the exploding growth in developing nations, where a large portion of mobile payments are conducted. Look for this number to be larger than 44%, as places like Africa in particular continue to embrace cloud-based, mobile financial platforms in favor of the fragmented and risky existing infrastructure. In support of this assumption, it is forecast that around 72% of mobile transactions will be money transfers.
On the losing end of the mobile payment world are NFC and “e-wallets” – which are expected to account for less than 3% of the mobile transactions in 2013. This is again, a conservative estimate in my consideration, as it will only require a major player like Apple, Google, or Amazon to really integrate a user-friendly system to shift this percentage considerably. Current systems are too unclear, and the existing data is comprised primarily of tech-savvy early adopters. NFC poses many security risks in terms of data theft – I don’t expect it to grow significantly – add to this concerns of signal disruption and battery performance, and it becomes a much less appealing option. 2013 will be the rise of the e-wallet – which will surely be a huge windfall for mobile security providers.
Potential winners in 2013 are mobile-based merchandise purchases, and mobile bill-payment. Merchandise purchase is expected to hold a 20% stake in the total for 2013, this is, in my estimation a conservative estimate as retailers of all sizes have been showing a clear push towards native-app commerce environments. Look for merchandise purchasing to eclipse 30% in 2013. Mobile bill-payment while only accounting for less than 5% of this sector is expected to grow aggressively, with Gartner speculating 44% growth in 2013. This is difficult to speculate on, however, when you consider the rate of new-device activation in developing countries, 44% does seem low.
All of the aforementioned leads to one conclusion, regardless of the specifics: MOBILE SECURITY. There is no doubt that this is going to be an increasingly massive and critical business sector, particularly in the Android-heavy markets where fragmented application-stores, and diverse device models are more prevalent. The level of security required on mobile devices is going to grow exponentially as the mobile begins to account for a broader and more critical array of tasks – financial transactions especially. The significant number of possible malware vectors available to infect and exploit mobile devices presents a far more complicated and concerning situation than standard desktop security.
Any of these predictions could be completely off, however I don’t expect many of them to be too high. The world of mobile transactions is an exciting one, filled with interesting possibilities, and equally concerning threats. The most certain bet is that this incredible growth, combined with the consolidation of data-critical tasks on handheld devices will inevitably benefit mobile security providers the most. As attack vectors continue to multiply, and as single-device use begins to pervade both personal and professional life, the mobile will become an increasingly irresistible target for data thieves, perpetrators of fraud, and financial crime.
Image credit: CC by Johan Larsson