MasterCard has unveiled its Mobile Payments Readiness Index, a kind of league table of 34 countries which the credit card firm surveyed for their readiness to take up three kinds of mobile payments: P2P, mobile web commerce and contactless payments at the point-of-sale terminal.  

Countries are scored by MasterCard across six categories: Consumer readiness, environment, financial services, infrastructure, mobile commerce clusters and regulation. The winner across the six categories was Singapore which was perhaps not so surprising. Neither was the composition of the rest of the top five: Canada, USA, Kenya and South Korea, all countries associated either with mobile money innovation or more generally with progressive use of technology.  See the MasterCard report here.

Further down the league table became more interesting and less predictable. Colombia finished one point ahead of Germany for instance or even more strikingly Nigeria had a score that was 25 percent higher than that of Italy. However this should not be taken as a comment on the plight of the Eurozone on even a reflection on the global economic trend whereby countries in the developing world are growing more dynamically than those in Europe. The UK for instance finishes eighth with a very respectable score of 37.5 that is 50 percent higher than that of Italy and just narrowly ahead of China, Philippines and Malaysia.

So what’s Singapore doing that’s so right? Actually what it’s doing wrong is more interesting. Or rather its scores across the six categories are predictably impressive with one exception: Consumers’ readiness where Singapore is frankly poor. “Their willingness to adopt mobile payments and current frequency of use lags behind some less developed – sometimes much less developed – global economies,” says MasterCard.

Singapore does not feature on the top ten countries in the consumer readiness category, most of whom are from the developing world led by Kenya, Nigeria and the Philippines. But even those in the top ten of consumer readiness do not score in a really outstanding way compared to scores in other categories.

Then there is MasterCard’s overall assessment. The card firm’s readiness index runs on a scale of zero to 100 where the latter represents the complete replacement of plastic cards with mobile devices.  MasterCard reckons the point of inflection where mobile devices make up an appreciable share of payments mix is somewhere around 60. We are currently well short of that point. Bear in the mind the highest score is Singapore was 46 and the average score across the 34 countries surveyed was 33.

A score of 33 is only halfway to MasterCard’s inflection point which feels like a long way to go. We are clearly not in a state of readiness. It is at a low level particularly among consumers who are the people who really matter in all this. So much for the payments revolution we have all been talking about.  In fact I think we would all settle for the arrival of a M-Pay Spring right now.

The editorial views expressed in this article are solely those of the author(s) and will not necessarily reflect the views of the GSMA, its Members or Associate Members.