The BYOD (bring your own device) trend is the most popular corporate mobile computing initiative according to “Mobile Commerce: State of the Market,” a new report from Mobile Commerce World and InformationWeek.

IW-mobile-computing-initiatives.JPGIn general, the report finds that the mobile commerce market is currently strong and growing rapidly. For example, 41 percent of executives from InformationWeek`s 500 companies polled in June 2012 have widespread deployment of employee access to corporate apps via personal devices (i.e., BYOD) and 29 percent have limited deployment.

Other popularly deployed mobile commerce initiatives include a mobile version of a customer website (39% widespread deployment / 14% limited deployment), mobile apps for customers (37% / 24%) and mobile apps for employees (25% / 29%). And while only a combined 28 percent of respondents have widespread or limited deployment of a mobile employee website, 39 percent are evaluating one.

Custom business apps are also popular, although a sizable percentage of the 323 business technology professionals surveyed in August 2011 have no plans to build or use them. One-third (33%) of business IT professionals currently build and use custom business apps and 31 percent plan to, although more than one-quarter (27%) do not build and use them and have no plans to do so. About one in 10 (9%) don’t know.

Mobile Payments - NFC vs. Cloud

According to the report, when it comes to accepting mobile payments, there is a major divide between a device-based near field communications (NFC) approach and a cloud-based approach. NFC involves secure hardware, such as a SIM card, where users store financial data, while cloud-based stores consumer data in the cloud and makes it available to mobile devices via secure access. Neither is “correct” -- NFC offers greater simplicity at the POS while cloud requires less infrastructure and is easier to upgrade.

InformationWeek advises companies accepting mobile payments to not totally commit to either approach and remain open to a hybrid option that combines elements of both approaches. When it comes to pros and cons of each mobile wallet approach, the report cites NFC pros such as enhanced sales, promotions, customer loyalty and cons such as a fragmented, complex solutions provider ecosystem, while cloud pros include no required change to POS infrastructure and cons include the necessity of Internet connectivity at the POS.

Mobile Banking - An Overview

The report also provides a quick overview of mobile banking, which includes services such as balance inquiries, transfers, bill payments and applying for loans and credit. According to data from Forrester, by 2017 mobile banking’s user base will double to 108 million -- 46 percent of all US bank account holders.

Mobile automated clearinghouse rules were adopted in the US in January 2011, while a Vodafone-sponsored mobile banking service called M-Pesa helps govern mobile banking transactions in seven developing nations including India, Kenya and Tanzania.

Mobile Commerce Recommendations

InformationWeek offers the following recommendations to businesses wanting to deploy mobile commerce applications:

  • Develop a mobile commerce strategy -- it is still in its infancy but growing very quickly.
  • The first step to mobile commerce is mobilizing existing e-commerce systems, followed by developing mobile-specific features such as location-based services.
  • For companies developing mobile wallet apps, cloud-based systems offer the most immediate opportunity but near-field communication (NFC) should be considered and cloud-based apps should work with barcodes and QR codes.
  • Investigate the many mobile commerce platforms available to find the one best suited to your company’s specific business needs.