What is Mobile Commerce?
Mobile commerce (M-commerce) is a term used to conduct online commercial transactions through wireless handheld devices, such as cellular phones and laptops. With the increasing popularity and application of mobile phones, the business has also been commercialized through mobile handsets. M-commerce implies the involvement of mobile business services through Internet-enabled mobile phones.
Mobile phones with the latest technology provide Internet access and various applications for accessing such services. Today, several companies in India have marked their presence in this space.
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Following are a few examples of companies from different sectors that are successfully utilizing e-commerce facilities for conducting business in India:
- Flipkart (online shopping/e-retailing)
- Jabong (online shopping/e-retailing)
- Snapdeal (online shopping/e-retailing)
- Zomato (online food and hospitality)
- Bookmyshow (online movie and events ticketing/entertainment & leisure)
- Makemytrip (online travel)
Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) and General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) are some technologies that enable data transmission to and from mobile phones. Although mobile phones have started facilitating the replacement of credit cards, still privacy and security issues are yet to be improved.
M-commerce operations in India
Today, the number of mobile users in India has increased even faster than the increase in the number of Internet users. From 2002 to 2001, the number of mobile users in India grew from 5.23 million to 227.12 million. Business enterprises have used this opportunity to build, develop and promote M-commerce operations in India.
M-commerce operations in India are used to:
- Promote products and services
- Provide information through instant messaging
- Conduct telesales and telemarketing
- Collect opinion polls and surveys
- Conduct mobile banking servers
- Provide online customer support and CRM
- Provide entertainment through games and applications
In the future also, M-commerce shows bright growth prospects because of the increasing pace by which the number of mobile subscribers in India is growing. In some aspects, M-commerce is even more useful than e-business because mobiles can be easily taken anywhere and it provides easy access to the Internet.
Nowadays, there are separate applications available on smartphones for different M-commerce transactions. These applications are popularly called ‘apps’ by mobile users. For example, ICICI bank has designed a mobile banking app that enables mobile phone users to safely perform mobile banking and e-bill payment functions.
Another important aspect of the penetration of M-commerce in India is that a majority of mobile users are concentrated in urban areas. However, a significant number of rural Indian populations have also become mobile subscribers.
The most widely used M-commerce scenario is related to mobile banking operations. Mobile banking allows users to perform most of the banking functions online. This includes account balance inquiries, cash transactions, and bill payments. Among the major service, providers through mobile commerce, there are financial service providers (such as banks), healthcare, and entertainment sectors.
Most banks have facilitated M-commerce for their customers. Every transaction through a credit or debit card from a bank account is notified to the customer on his/her mobile. The stock market services are also accessible through mobile. Various news channels and shopping centers have also become downloadable on mobile phones. For the entertainment sector, the use of mobile phones has noticed a huge change in the way they are used. Now, a mobile phone user can download songs, movies, and games directly on the mobile phone.