What does Mobile Payments mean?

Mobile payment, also referred to as mobile money, mobile money transfer, and mobile wallet generally refer to payment services operated under financial regulation and performed from or via a mobile device. Instead of paying with cash, cheque, or credit cards, a consumer can use a mobile phone to pay for a wide range of services and digital or hard goods. Although the concept of using non-coin-based currency systems has a long history, it is only recently that the technology to support such systems has become widely available.

A customer can transfer money or pay for goods and services by sending an SMS, using a Java application over GPRS, a WAP service, over IVR or other mobile communication technologies. In India, this service is bank-led. Customers wishing to avail themselves of this service will have to register with banks which provide this service. Currently, this service is being offered by several major banks and is expected to grow further. Mobile Payment Forum of India (MPFI) is the umbrella organisation which is responsible for deploying mobile payments in India.

India has a vast non-banking population, most of whom reside in the rural areas. The traditional banking industry can not cater to the needs of India's large rural populace. Setting up a conventional bank branch in a rural area would require considerable amounts of money to be spent on infrastructure and additional personnel. Most of rural Indians are cut off from access to basic financial services, which include deposits and withdrawals from a trusted source.However, India is the second-largest telecommunications market and has 929.37 million mobile phone customers. Mobile phones are quite common even in the remote villages. The mobile phone industry is growing at a rate of over 200 million per year. It was expected to touch the one billion mark by 2013. The share of the urban subscribers is 66% and the share of the rural subscribers was 34%. In May 2011, the net monthly addition in terms of the number of subscriptions was 13.35 million. Of those, 7.33 million were from the urban segment and 6.02 million from the rural segment. The subscription growth rate on a monthly basis is 55% for urban segments and 45% for rural segments. Given this context, it is possible to consider the mobile phone as an economically viable instrument to enable inclusive access to financial services.