Rise of the 'Smartphonatics' PDF Print E-mail

SA has the second highest percentage worldwide of “Smartphonatics” – smartphone users who drive adoption of mobile banking and payments.

A recent report by ACI Research and the Aite Group identified a new category of smartphones users, or “Smartphonatics”, who change their financial, payment and shopping behaviour as a result of owning a smartphone.

The report is based on a survey of 4 200 consumers, in 14 countries, in the first quarter of this year. The survey was conducted in order to gain insight into the worldwide adoption patterns for mobile banking and payments.

“Across the globe, one segment of consumers – Smartphonatics – is driving the demand for mobile payments and banking. The differences in mobile payments and banking behaviour between Smartphonatics and other consumers are stark,” says the report.

According to the research, 70% of Smartphonatics had used their mobile phones to make a payment in the past six months (compared to less than a quarter of other consumers). A further 80% had used their smartphone for banking, while one-third of other consumers had done the same.

ACI Research says globally an estimated 25% of consumers can be classified as Smartphonatics – with the majority (36%) being between the ages of 20 and 31, and close to a third being between the ages of 32 and 46.

“Interestingly, the smartphone is simply an enabler – not a driver – of changing behaviour. What makes this group important is its changing behaviour, which provides a blueprint for how later adopters of smartphone technology will behave,” says ACI, adding that simply owning a smartphone does not make one a Smartphonatic.

India presented the highest percentage of Smartphonatics, at 60%. SA follows in second with 42%. The lowest percentage of Smartphonatics was found in Canada (7%), France (8%) and Germany (10%).

In SA, First National Bank leads in the mobile banking space with an estimated 33% of the market share. The bank has grown its number of registered cellphone banking users exponentially over the last three years, with over R2 billion in mobile transactions processed monthly.

The 2011 Mobility report, by World Wide Worx, identified mobile banking as a key emerging trend in SA. Of the 68% of respondents with bank accounts, 37% said they make use of cellphone banking facilities (compared to the 15% at the time who said they use Internet banking). These figures translate to one in four South Africans using mobile banking services.

Leverage opportunity

In the past six months, 70% of Smartphonatics worldwide have used their mobile device to make a payment, and 80% have used their device for banking purposes. In contrast, less than a quarter of other consumers have made a mobile payment, and only one-third completed mobile banking transactions.

Senior analyst with the Aite Group, Ron Shevlin, says Smartphonatics are driving the adoption of mobile payments and banking and “setting the bar” for how financial institutions should respond over the next five years.

“Smartphonatics exist across the globe and, while their ranks differ across countries, one thing is consistent: their mobile payment and banking behaviours stand out from those of other consumers,” says Shevlin.

“Mobile will not replace traditional banking or payment systems,” says ACI, adding that the study found that, while using a mobile device is the preferred method for payments and banking in many groups, it is not the only method (with Smartphonatics being the group most likely to experiment with new services).

ACI Worldwide`s president of global markets and services, Ralph Dangelmaier, says as consumers begin to expect to shop and transact at anytime, from anywhere, mobile is a major area of opportunity for financial institutions, processors and retailers alike.

"These organisations need to plan strategically for mobile as part of their overall channel strategy, alongside ATMs, POS, branch and online banking. The most successful companies are leveraging their existing banking and payments systems to implement innovative mobile services. That way, they can cut down costs and time to market for new mobile ventures,” says Dangelmaier.

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