Mobile phones are being used widely for commerce in India now. However, industry pundits say that this is only the tip of the iceberg and m-commerce has only scratched the surface.
Data shows that more users access internet over mobile rather than over their PCs/computers in India. More than 70% of the populace has access to mobile phones and this number is growing every day. Mobile phones are also easier to use for the not so technical savvy class such as rural people, grand-moms, grand papas and so on. They can transact on their mobile phones without much difficulty. The cost of doing transactions would also be much lower on mobile phones as compared to other mediums. India already has one of the lowest rates in this space.
All these factors favour explosive growth of m-commerce industry. Banking, payments and marketing industry are the leaders who have embraced this concept completely. Banks are offering their services over the mobile phones. Some providers are giving the option of making small payments from their phones where they usually require the users to maintain some balance with them. Different industry segments are using this medium widely for marketing their products and services. We’re seeing real estate, retail, banking, ISPs and some other service providers doing this. Other industry segments also need to take this platform seriously or they might be left behind by their competitors.
However, there are some challenges in this domain which hold up its growth. Mobile phones have a smaller screen as compared to other computing devices. Due to this mobile applications usually have fewer features. Security is another area which needs continuous innovation. People are reluctant to share details of their creditdebit cards over the phones. There’s more risk of the device getting stolen or hacked. Another challenge is fewer options or applications for this platform but this issue will disappear as more providers come forward to offer services for mobile phones.
To conclude, this is a very interesting area with lot of unexplored opportunities. The emerging economies offer more opportunities in this space and which ever service providers can crack these markets will leapfrog into the big league very fast.
However, we’ve also seen that even though the usage of open source software grew manifold, paid software also survived. While Linux users grew exponentially, Windows retained its numero uno position. Same holds true for other softwares also. There are instances where there’s a basic version which is free and a premium version for which users have to pay. In my opinion, the same may happen in the mobile apps segment. A large part of the apps may be free but users would be ready to pay for those in the niche areas. There might be basic apps which are free but those with advanced features would be able to charge a premium.
There’s space for everyone. The pie is so BIG !!!