Mobile buying booms in US, banking in India

Many U.S. consumers whipped out their smartphones in brick-and-mortar stores to find better deals online last year, tripling mobile shopping revenue in just one year, an ABI Research analyst said Wednesday.

The findings of a newly released report by the firm showed that the relationship between money and mobile devices varies widely from one part of the world to another. Mobile banking grew significantly in India, while Africa, Latin America and some other parts of the world appeared ready to bypass banking altogether in favor of payments handled by mobile operators, according to ABI.

Mobile commerce grew far faster in the U.S. than worldwide last year, vaulting from US$396 million in 2008 to an estimated $1.2 billion in 2009, analyst Mark Beccue said. That was nearly 1 percent of all online commerce, he said. Drawing on information from multiple sources, ABI concluded that many smartphone users went shopping in physical stores, looked at products, checked out deals on the same items online and made a purchase without even going home to log onto a computer.

Some used an emerging class of applications designed to make this easier, including ShopSavvy, a tool for the iPhoneiPhone and AndroidAndroid platforms that is coming soon to many Nokia devices. ShopSavvy uses the phone's camera as a barcode scanner to identify a product, then directs the user to Web shopping pages for that item. Alles zu Android auf Alles zu iPhone auf

Shopping on the mobile Web has become especially popular in North America, though in Japan, it already accounts for about 20 percent of online purchases, Beccue said. Worldwide, excluding Japan, mobile commerce grew from about $3 billion in 2008 to $4.4 billion in 2009.

Meanwhile, the number of U.S. consumers using mobile banking more than doubled in 2009, from 4 million to 10 million. That was partly driven by the slumping economy, because many consumers adopt mobile banking to check their balances frequently, Beccue said. In addition, U.S. banks are starting to treat mobile as more than an extension of Web-based banking, with tools such as SMS (Short Message Service).

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