Gartner: SMS-based money transfer will be bigger than mobile browsing, search

Technology market research company Gartner Inc. has released a report which predicts what the top ten mobile applications will be in 2012 based on current activity in the smartphone field, including such factors as consumer and industry interest, potential revenue, and existing business models.

Based upon this information, Gartner predicts the number one "killer app" that everyone will have on their mobile device will be one that is currently uncommon in the United States, but available elsewhere in the world: Money Transfer.

More important than mobile communication or entertainment applications, Gartner predicts that SMS-based money transfer is the next big thing for smartphones. It already exists in a number of other markets, but Gartner says the regulatory kinks need to be worked out before it can truly flourish.

"Because of the fast growth of mobile money transfer, regulators in many markets are piling in to investigate the impact on consumer costs, security, fraud and money laundering," Gartner's announcement today said. "On the operational side, market conditions vary, as do the local resources of service providers, so providers need different market strategies when entering a new territory."

The rest of Gartner's list, in descending order, included: Location-based services, mobile search, mobile browsing, mobile health monitoring, mobile payment, near field communication services, mobile advertising, mobile instant messaging, and mobile music.

Items six and seven on Gartner's list (mobile payment and near-field communication services) are issues related to one another and to the transfer of money. These two application classes have been closely linked since NTT DoCoMo debuted near-field "Wallet Phones" in 2004, which turn a user's phone into a sort of Speedpass dongle which can be "charged" with money or credits, and passed in front of a reader for instant transactions.

Gartner says the main difficulty in propagating any of these money-related technologies comes in uniting the mobile carriers with the banks.

"The increasing consumer interest in smartphones, the participation of Internet players in the mobile space, and the emergence of application stores and cross-industry services are reducing the dominance of mobile carriers," Sandy Shen, research director at Gartner said. "Each player will influence how the application is delivered and experienced by consumers, who ultimately vote with their attention and spending power."

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