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Why mobile is critical to the future bank

It’s the GSMA Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona this week. It’s a big deal as the mobile operators and manufacturers announce their major news items for the year, such as Microsoft acquiring Nokia.

That’s why Steve Ballmer is down there doing a keynote today along with Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter. There’s Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google (he was CEO until the other day, when Larry Page took that role back) and over 100 other speakers.

In fact, to show what a big deal it is, you only need to consider that there will be 50,000 attendees from over 200 countries with 1,300 exhibitors. That’s like the Hanover Fair in ascendancy.

So what’s going to be hot there this week?

Well, apart from Duffy as a performer at the Awards Celeb, there’s already a few interesting announcements such as:

GSMA Announces That Global HSPA Mobile Broadband Connections Have Surpassed 400 Million – Newswire

The GSMA today announced that HSPA Mobile Broadband connections have increased by 100 percent year-on-year, passing 400 million globally, according to figures from Wireless Intelligence. There are now more than 17 million HSPA connections being added each month around the world, compared to nearly 9 million a month in the same period last year. LTE, the next-generation Mobile Broadband technology, is also set to experience rapid growth over the next few years, rising from 4.2 million connections in 24 countries by the end of this year, to almost 300 million connections in 55 countries by 2015.

Phone Operators Propose Requirements for Embedded Wireless SIM – Bloomberg

A group of phone operators has drawn up the requirements for a standard embedded Subscriber Information Module, or SIM, card to be used in mobile devices, the GSM Association said in a statement today. The proposed standard would cover a SIM card that could be sealed in devices, including machinery that isn’t mobile.

Push to end content providers’ ‘free lunch’ – Financial Times

Mobile phone operators are stepping up their campaign to charge internet content providers such as Google that are unleashing an explosion of data traffic on telecoms groups’ networks.

I also picked up a couple of interesting previews for MWC from BA and Cisco.

BA’s Business Life Magazine has a preview, which starts with the words:

Mobile marketing was, for a very long time, the next big thing. At the end of each year, marketing gurus would confidently predict that the next year would be all about the mobile. But 2002 passed, as did 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, and nothing much happened. There was the occasional SMS campaign but little to justify all the hype. This may explain why, when mobile marketing finally did take off in 2009, many people missed it. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, in 2009 mobile ad spend grew by 32 per cent to £37.6m, and then there were all the mobile websites, the SMS campaigns, the mobile coupons, the mobile games and, of course, the apps.

The article then mentions a few interesting facts, such as:

  • According to Euromonitor, 34 per cent of smartphone users access the mobile internet to search for travel information, 29 per cent check reservations and 25 per cent book rooms with their devices.
  • Visitors to Nissan’s internet site remain for an average of four minutes but stay on the mobile site for an average of 12 minutes.
  • The iPhone app from VW allows users to race a Golf GTI and resulted in 175 cars being sold to players of the app. That's $4 million in revenue.
  • Marks & Spencer (a UK retailer) launched its mobile website in May 2010 and, by the end of the year, it has attracted over 1 million visitors and taken more than 13,000 orders, two of which were for sofas.
  • Debenhams (another UK retailer) app was downloaded 75,000 times in its first week, and went to top spot in the lifestyle app charts with sales that more than paid for the development cost of the app.

There are loads of other interesting stats in the magazine as well, such as:

  • Mobile networks now cover approximately 90 per cent of the world's population
  • Worldwide sales of smartphones are growing by almost 100% a year according to Gartner
  • In 2014, there will be 1.6 billion smartphone users, and mobile internet usage will overtake ‘desktop’, and the market for mobile coupons will be worth $6.5 billion
  • Investment bank Morgan Stanley has predicted that by 2015 more people will connect to the internet via mobile devices than via desktop PCs
  • Mobile operator Vodafone says 30% of its European customers already use their mobile devices regularly to access the Internet.
  • 80% of high street retailers have made no effort to target shoppers through their smartphones
  • There are other 400,000 apps at the Apple App Store
  • 82% of us keep the mobile on while they’re on holiday
  • 51% of consumers user their mobile for in-store research
  • 62% of UK consumers leave their mobile phones switched on while they are asleep
  • 25% of UK consumers have internet-enabled phones
  • 3% of smartphone users admit to checking Facebook whilst in meetings at work

In a similar vein, there are interesting stats tracking the future of mobile in the Cisco report (get a copy over here).

Titled: “Visual Networking Index (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2010 to 2015” – who came up with that scintillating title? – Cisco have worked out that global mobile data traffic increased 159% during 2010.  That means that “global mobile data traffic in 2010 was three times the size of all global Internet traffic (fixed and mobile) in the year 2000.”


Looking ahead to 2015, the survey predicts that:

  • more than 5.6 billion personal devices will be connected to mobile networks, and there will also be 1.5 billion machine-to-machine nodes,
  • video will represent 66 % of all mobile data traffic, increasing 35-fold from 2010 to 2015, showing the highest growth rate of any mobile data application,
  • mobile traffic from tablet devices will grow 205-fold from 2010 to 2015, the highest growth rate of any device category tracked,
  • the volume of mobile data traffic will reach 6.3 billion gigabytes (or 6.3 exabytes if you prefer) per month, representing the equivalent of 19 billion DVDs and 75 times the amount of global Internet Protocol traffic (fixed and mobile) generated in the year 2000,
  • more than 7.1 billion connected mobile devices (excluding Wi-Fi connections) representing nearly one mobile connected device for each member of the world's population based on the United Nations' population estimate for 2015.

That’s why mobile is so important as it is now more important for banks than the internet which, according to some banks, is more important than call centres, branches and ATMs.

Looking ahead, another BA Business Life article follows up with a few futuristic predictions about:

  • the rise of HD and 3D phones coming soon;
  • dictation and translation of calls, texts, mobile sites and emails in real-time;
  • motion phones that recognise where your eyes or head moves and tracks your environment as required;
  • perceptive phones that recognise what you’re doing and use push and pull technologies to fit with your needs and desires (!);
  • analysis phones that monitor your heart rate, blood flow, blood sugar levels and more and alert as necessary; and
  • haptic phones that use touch technologies such that a kiss from your partner on their phone screen can be relayed as data to your phone, so you actually feel a kiss if you put your lips onto your phone screen (must be Valentine’s Day!).

The article finishes by looking at how mobile could be used to turn systems on and off at home or in offices, and states that: “while the rise of the smartphone is clearly the biggest story in the mobile industry today, the rise of the connected car, the smart meter and the smart building could well be the biggest ‘mobile’ story of the next decade.”

True, very true … now then, is mobile financial services important?

You betcha!



About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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