The One Trillion Dollar Mark: Mobile Commerce Is Here to Stay

Op-Ed By

Prvaeen Alavilli, Mobile Developer Evangelist at PayPalX Developer Network

Melissa Netram, Senior Public Policy Manager and Counsel, Intuit

Each holiday season brings a new shopping trend--two years ago “Black Friday” started on Thursday, last year it was social shopping, and this year, mobile commerce takes the stage with no signs of becoming a one-season wonder. Instead of braving the lines for doorbusters on Black Friday, consumers increasingly made those first holiday purchases from their tablets with apps. Even on small business Saturday, an increasing number of stores were able to accommodate credit card payments with a smartphone or tablet app and a service like Intuit’s GoPayment.

Not since the advent of the credit card has payment technology so significantly shaped American consumer behavior. With the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets and the rise of apps to complete nearly every task, consumers have come to expect the convenience of mobile payments and have grown to trust mobile technologies. We can make almost any purchase at any time with nothing more than a smartphone.

Already, the 2012 holiday season is an unprecedented one for mobile commerce. During post-Thanksgiving shopping, mobile commerce skyrocketed. According to a study by the Mobile Marketing Association, 50% of consumers plan to make a purchase this holiday season with their mobile device, either through mobile web, apps, or at the point of sale.

More studies suggest that growth in mobile commerce is a trend that will be with us long past the holiday season. According to a recent study by IDC Financial Insights and reported in Mashable, mobile commerce will likely top one trillion dollars in 2017. Moreover, research by the Application Developers Alliance and Frank N. Magid Associates shows that a third of smart devices owners have made in-app purchases and sixteen percent have made purchases through a mobile card reader, with more planning to do so over the next six months.

Mobile commerce is redefining the way we conduct business, creating opportunities for small businesses and large retailers alike. Now more than ever, anything a consumer could need is in the palm of their hand.

Mobile Commerce has faced skeptics from the start. Would consumers feel comfortable ordering a product from their phone? Would products look attractive on a small screen? Could anything tempt users away from a desktop computer? The answers have become a resounding yes, and this is just the beginning.

Advances in technologies like augmented reality provide opportunities for customer interaction that are just beginning to be tapped. For example, in the CandyLab app, customers can access discounts and play games based on where they are in real-life, including in-store. As mobile commerce becomes more intertwined with traditional shopping, hybrid shopping opportunities may become the norm.

At X.commerce and Intuit, we are interested in working with developers, the architects of this emerging field, and other industry leaders to advance mobile commerce. We have temaed up with the Application Developers Alliance, an industry association representing more than 15,000 application developers, to launch a working group focused on Mobile Payments. The group aims to shape the industry in a way that benefits developers and businesses and, most importantly, meets consumer demand for on-the-go and instant commerce.