April 25, 2006

MANHASSET, N.Y. — As many as 25 million wireless phone subscribers in North America could be using their mobile phones as mobile wallets by 2011, according to a report by market research firm In-Stat. In-Stat (Scottsdale, Ariz.) reported that unlike M-commerce, the mobile transaction concept touted in the 1990s that never took hold, the mobile wallet is a more versatile application that includes elements of mobile transactions, as well as other items one may find in a wallet, such as membership cards, loyalty cards, and other forms of identification.

"In-Stat believes that the market can grow only by adopting a technology that offers the most versatility by providing both transaction capability and content discovery," said David Chamberlain, In-Stat analyst. "There are several technologies that could enable mobile wallet operations of handsets, including Near Field Communications (NFC), Radio Frequency (RFID), bar codes, and visual recognition. Standardization efforts around NFC may give that system the edge."

According to the firm, U.S. users are at best lukewarm towards mobile wallets with roughly one-third of respondents interested, one-third indifferent, and one-third uninterested.

The most frequently mentioned barrier to the mobile wallet is added fees for its use (72 percent of respondents), followed by security concerns about loss of the phone and privacy.

Not surprisingly, the firm found that the mobile wallet was most appealing to technology innovators and early adopters as well as subscribers who already rely heavily on their wireless phones.