Mobile-payment systems are playing an increasingly significant role in global commerce. Naturally, the new technologies are being adopted faster in some countries than in others. According to the MasterCard Mobile Payments Readiness Index, these are the 10 nations leading the way:
1. Singapore — Singapore has 100 percent mobile coverage, which no other country can claim. In addition, 70 percent of the nation’s residents have internet access and 68 percent own a mobile phone.
2. Canada — It has the best infrastructure, in terms of cooperation among mobile networks, financial institutions, and government agencies. Plus, Canada is the global leader in internet penetration with 82 percent of consumers online.
3. United States — America has the most mobile-payment potential. Household spending per capita, at $33,000, is the highest in the world, and the U.S. is a global leader in financial-services products and regulatory systems.
4. Kenya — A whopping 68 percent of residents in Kenya frequently use mobile payments, which is more than in any other nation. The M-Pesa service provides a model for mobile-payment systems in developing countries.
5. South Korea — Residents here use mobile payments to transfer money between two individuals about three times more often than they do to make point-of-sale purchases. South Korea also boasts numerous partnerships with regional mobile-payment providers.
6. Japan — On average, each person in Japan has a mind-boggling 14.98 charge (credit or debit) cards. Also, Japan’s financial-services sector is considered the finest in the world.
7. United Arab Emirates — The U.A.E. is the global leader in business adoption of new technologies. Those technologies include terminals and scanners, which are part of mobile-payment systems.
8. United Kingdom — It’s the top European nation on this list. The main reasons are its extremely high household mobile-phone (85 percent) and internet penetration (80 percent).
9. Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia could become a major player in the mobile-payment industry in the near future. In fact, more consumers who use mobile payments are making point-of-sale purchases in Saudi Arabia than in any other country.
10. China — As with many things, China’s strength comes from its sheer population size: It’s home to an astonishing 859 million mobile-phone subscribers.