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This report is based on a survey Ovum conducted in 2015 which explored the state of mobile financial services (MFS) and mobile commerce (m-commerce) in 17 mature and emerging markets.


  • Lack of awareness and low active usage of MFS is particularly common among unbanked respondents in emerging markets. These respondents will benefit the most from MFS.
  • Almost half of unbanked respondents in emerging markets keep their savings at home rather than use formal channels. This presents an untapped market for mobile money services.
  • The majority of respondents (users and non-users alike) are not at ease with managing finances from a mobile application, with 35% feeling “very uncomfortable” about it and a further 17% stating they were “uncomfortable.”

Features and Benefits

  • Assesses the current adoption status of MFS and m-commerce in mature and emerging markets.
  • Identifies the most popular types of applications in use today and which services consumers plan to take up in their next wave of adoption.

Key questions answered

  • What is preventing people from adopting MFS and m-commerce applications and what can be done to improve this?
  • How will consumer usage of MFS and m-commerce applications change in the next 12 months?
  • What factors will increase consumer trust in mobile payment service providers?
  • Why is active usage still low among unbanked consumers?
  • Which markets will experience the strongest growth?

Table of contents


  • Introduction
  • Ovum view
  • Key messages

The big picture: an untapped market opportunity

  • Active MFS usage remains low
  • Many consumers are still in the dark
  • Comfort levels are not as high as they could be
  • The ongoing barriers to adoption persist
  • In emerging markets cash is still king
  • Operators need to make better headway in the trust stakes

The unbanked in emerging markets: still falling through the net

  • A large amount of unbanked people are not being reached
  • Unbanked respondents are more reliant on informal channels

The state of play: current MFS usage in depth

  • Money transfers and balance checking still dominate MFS
  • Mature and emerging markets align on m-commerce
  • The early adoption of social commerce apps is promising
  • Mobile proximity payments present a mixed picture

Service evolution: the outlook for MFS

  • Emerging markets look set to see the strongest growth
  • There is work to do to stimulate interest in advanced MFS
  • Emerging markets are the most enthusiastic about m-commerce

Driving adoption and usage: a call to action

  • Improving service cornerstones will drive adoption and usage
  • Localization will make rewards more effective
  • Perception as much as reality colors attitudes to security
  • Rewards and brand trust will foster loyalty
  • MFS providers must keep up the momentum behind service innovation


  • Providers must address head-on consumers’ “fear of the unknown”


  • Methodology
  • Further reading
  • Author

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