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Tap Into the Mobile Payments Revolution

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Tap Into the Mobile Payments Revolution

The trends and contenders that are shaping mobile payments.

Thanks to Purefunds Mobile Payments ETF (IPAY) for helping us put this together.

Yesterday, user-friendly payment processor Stripe announced a strategic investment and partnership from Visa that values the company at $5 billion. Other investors that participated are not unknowns either: Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, American Express, and Sequoia. It was only in December that Stripe was valued at $3.5 billion and in their previous financing, they were valued at just half of that. Stripe will use Visa’s international connections to help it expand beyond the 20 countries it currently services.

This type of story is not unusual in the payment space. Companies are scrambling to scale or adopt new technologies that integrate mobile and electronic features to make it easier, cheaper, and faster for customers to pay. The reason for this is that the payments ecosystem has always been more cumbersome and more expensive than it should be. In the United States alone, retail merchants that accept card-based payments were charged about $67 billion in fees. Add the rest of the world to that pie, and it makes it clear that the payments space is as ripe for disruption as any other.

Mobile and electronic payments allow customers to pay for goods with a tap of a phone or the press of a button. Two of every three Americans have a smartphone, and mobile payments can typically happen faster with less fees. The earliest adopters of mobile payments have a younger and affluent profile: they average just over 30 years old, have a higher annual income, and spend over 2x more on retail than unwilling non-users of mobile payments.

Big Data and the Developing World

One of the most attractive benefits of mobile payments is the integration of big data and predictive analytics. Retailers will have the capability to link purchases directly with location (GPS), consumer behaviour, purchase history, demographics, and social influence. Analyzing this information will allow companies to reach out to consumers with tailored offerings, loyalty programs, and rewards. Customers will be able to take action right from their mobile device.

The opportunities in payments are not just limited to in the United States or even the developed world. Perhaps one of the most interesting opportunities for the mobile payments space is in Africa, where bank penetration is extremely low at only about 25% and mobile phone penetration is higher at 60%. Kenya is a good example of a market where digitization has reached a large portion of the population, giving mobile payments an 86% household penetration.

Mckinsey did an analysis looking at the size of revenue pools for mobile payments if each market in Africa had the same penetration as Kenya, and it sees the pools more than doubling in places like Ethiopia and Nigeria. With the population in sub-Saharan Africa expected to balloon from 926 million to 2.2 billion by 2050, their appears to be even greater opportunity.

Tapping In

The earliest potential in the mobile and electronic payments market appears to be in areas such as micropayments, incidental payments, recurring bills, peer-to-peer money transfers, and cryptocurrency. However, in the long term, the concept can be applied to many different facets of commerce.

Mobile payments may continue to disrupt the big payments market because of several factors including a young and growing userbase, ease of use, faster transactions, cheaper costs, and increased adoption. As Smittipon Srethapramote, who covers the North American payments industry for Morgan Stanley, concludes in a summary on the subject: “Mobile Payments can expand the global revenue pie from $175 billion to $250 billion, including $45 billion in developed markets and $30 billion in emerging markets.”

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Business

The 50 Biggest Video Game Franchises by Total Revenue

Video games generate billions in revenue every year. Where the majority of this revenue comes from, however, may be surprising to you.

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The 50 Biggest Video Game Franchises by Total Revenue

When the world’s first video game, Tennis for Two, was revealed at a science fair in 1958, people were fascinated—there was clearly something special.

Since these humble beginnings, video games have rode waves of technological advancements to burgeon into a $100+ billion industry. To visualize this success, today’s infographic from TitleMax lists the top 50 highest-grossing video games franchises.

While this feat is impressive on its own, the way many of these franchises generate their revenue may come as a shock.

How Do Video Games Generate Billions?

Video games first saw large-scale commercial success in the 1980s, in what some describe as the “golden age of arcade games”. As arcades popped up across America, renowned classics like Pac-man and Space Invaders raked in large sums of money, one coin at a time.

Today, there are two revenue models generally followed by video game publishers—the traditional pay-to-play (P2P) model, and the newer free-to-play (F2P) model.

For much of the industry’s modern history, P2P models have been the default option. A developer incurs costs to produce its games, so it sells them to consumers to recover costs and make a profit.

Under a F2P model, however, the developer essentially distributes its games for free. Players don’t have to pay anything if they don’t want to, and the developer runs the risk that it may never recoup its costs.

So why would a developer ever choose a F2P model? Let’s look at industry data from 2019:

PlatformFree-to-play (F2P) RevenuePay-to-play (P2P) Revenue
Mobile$64.4B--
PC$21.1B$5.2B
Console$1.6B$13.8B
Total$87.1B$19.0B

Source: SuperData

Those aren’t typos. F2P games accounted for a whopping 82% of industry revenue in 2019. What’s more, is that this gap continues to grow: since the previous year, F2P revenue grew 6%, while P2P revenue fell by 5%.

The Power of Discretionary Spending

There’s a number of F2P franchises listed in today’s graphic which have grossed well over a billion dollars in total revenue.

RankFranchiseDeveloperPlatformGross Revenue
#15League of LegendsRiot Games¹PC$8.4B
#21Arena of ValorTencentMobile$6.4B
#23Clash of ClansSupercell²Mobile$6.0B
#27Candy Crush SagaKing³Mobile$4.9B
#40Maple StoryNexonPC$3.0B
#46FortniteEpic Games⁴Console, Mobile, PC$2.5B
#47Clash RoyaleSupercell²Mobile$2.0B

¹wholly-owned subsidiary of Tencent, ²majority-owned subsidiary of Tencent, ³wholly-owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, ⁴Tencent owns a 40% stake.

Because these types of games are often published for PC or mobile phone (most people have at least one of these), their accessibility becomes a key advantage. This is especially true in China, where video game consoles like Xbox have been banned in the past.

Yet, simply amassing a large player base isn’t enough. With no money being paid upfront, developers must create compelling incentives for players to willingly part with their cash.

League of Legends

League of Legends, one of the world’s most popular video games, is widely considered a successful pioneer in this regard.

When developer Riot Games chose a F2P model for its game, it took a gamble. The model was largely unproven for titles of its genre, and it’s main source of revenue was set to be the sale of purely cosmetic items called “character skins”.

Nobody would have tried Legends if we put a price point in front of it because the game is tough to sell

—Marc Merrill, Co-founder of Riot Games

Part of the game’s incentive to spend comes from its longevity—League of Legends has just entered its 11th year. Rather than release a new title, the developer makes continuous improvements to the existing game, with each iteration dubbed as a new “season”.

If a traditional P2P game represents a movie, League of Legends could then be considered a long-running TV show. For example, while there’s been one League of Legends since 2009, there’s been 11 Call of Duty titles over that same time frame.

Joining the Party

Some of the world’s most successful video game franchises, which have historically published games under the P2P model, are also expanding into free games with great success.

For Pokémon (#1 in gross revenue), product diversification is nothing new. While the franchise manages a universe of offerings from physical merchandise to movies, its free mobile augmented reality (AR) game, Pokémon Go, may be one of its most successful endeavors.

The game, which leads players out into the real world to catch virtual monsters, was a massive sensation when it launched in 2016. In fact, it was so popular (and distracting) it’s been estimated to have contributed to more than 100,000 car accidents.

Four years since its release, Pokémon Go is a shining example of what the F2P model can achieve—the game has racked up over 1 billion downloads and generated an incredible $3 billion in revenues.

YearGross Revenue % Change 
2016$832M-
2017$589M-29%
2018$816M+38%
2019$894M+10%
Total$3,131M-

Source: Sensor Tower Store Intelligence

Part of Pokémon Go’s incentive to spend comes from its incredibly unique social experience—it
turns real world landmarks into hubs where players can gather. By simply leveraging the capabilities of existing smartphones, it’s also extremely accessible.

Is Free the New Norm?

As more and more franchises successfully expand into free games, it’s clear that the F2P model will be the primary driver of future growth. The relatively higher accessibility of F2P games is also crucial to tap into the quickly growing esports industry.

However, traditional P2P games, which are now being called “premium games”, still have some merit to them. These games are often associated with a higher level of quality which people are happy to pay for.

Yet, as the legitimacy and success of the F2P model continues to develop, this quality gap could also shrink in the future.

Editor’s note: The revenue figures in today’s infographic include merchandise and other related products.

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Economy

Visualized: Where 5G Will Change The World

5G is set to revamp industries around the world, but the benefits may not be equally distributed. Here’s what the global landscape may look like in 2035.

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Where 5G Will Change The World

View the high resolution version of this infographic.

We’re on the cusp of a 5G revolution.

Whereas 4G brought us the network speeds necessary for online apps and mobile-streaming, 5G represents a monumental leap forward. Beyond the improvements to our existing ecosystem of devices—more speed and better stability—researchers believe that 5G can serve as the underpinning for fully-connected industries and cities.

Change doesn’t happen overnight, and for us to experience 5G’s true potential, we’ll need to be patient. In light of this, today’s infographic from Raconteur visualizes the forecasted impact of 5G to help us identify the countries and industries that will most effectively leverage its power.

5G-Empowered Industries

5G networks are expected to generate $13.2 trillion in global sales activity by 2035. To make this easier to digest, here are the five industries which stand to benefit the most.

RankIndustrySales ($B)Share of Industry Sales (%)
#1Manufacturing$4,6875.4%
#2Information and Communication$1,56910.7%
#3Wholesale and Retail Sales$1,1985.1%
#4Public Services$9856.3%
#5Construction$7314.3%

Let’s focus on manufacturing, an industry which is expected to see a massive $4.6 trillion in 5G-enabled sales.

Efficiency is the name of the game here, and researchers predict that this technology will allow for the world’s first “smart factories”. Such factories would leverage the faster speed and reliability of 5G networks to eliminate cabled connections, improve automated processes, and most importantly, gather more data.

Combined with machine learning algorithms, this data can help companies predict when expensive equipment is about to fail, reducing the likelihood of expensive downtime.

– AT&T Business Editorial

Robots won’t be the only ones to benefit, however. While today’s factories may be lined with machines, humans are still required to be onsite for troubleshooting when issues arise. Some processes may also be too intricate to be effectively automated, thus requiring a human’s touch.

With the lower latencies (shorter delay) boasted by 5G networks, virtual and augmented reality devices can become reliable enough for use in high precision work. This exciting development has the potential to greatly increase a human worker’s productivity, as well as allow them to work in closer harmony with robots.

In fact, such technologies are already being used on factory floors.

Leading The Way

Developing 5G networks and implementing them into the many industries of the global economy is a massive undertaking, and just seven countries are expected to account for 79% of all 5G-related investment.

By 2035, here’s how these countries are expected to rank.

CountryShare of Value Chain R&D
and Capital Expenditure
5G-enabled Output ($B)5G-enabled Employment
(million people)
🇺🇸 United States26.7%$7862.8
🇨🇳 China25.5%$1,13010.9
🇯🇵 Japan12.4%$4062.3
🇩🇪 Germany3.9%$1710.7
🇫🇷 France3.9%$1241.5
🇬🇧 United Kingdom3.8%$1140.5
🇰🇷 South Korea2.9%$1280.7

Incidentally, these seven nations are also some of the world’s most innovative economies.

Let’s take a closer look at the two biggest players in 5G development.

United States

It’s not a surprise to see the U.S. on top in terms of 5G investment, though it seems the country is in a peculiar position. China is right on their heels in terms of investment, and is even forecasted to surpass them in 5G-enabled output and employment.

Chinese tech giant Huawei is likely a factor behind these numbers. The company—which America has no direct rival to—is currently the world’s largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment.

Developments such as these have formed the general consensus that China is winning the “5G race”, but putting America down for a second place finish may be a mistake. With renowned tech hubs like Silicon Valley, the U.S. still leads the rest of the world in terms of patent activity and high-tech company density.

There will be a tendency to cast these developments as another sign that the United States is losing the race … [but] U.S. companies can dominate the applications and services that run over 5G.

– Adam Segal, Director, Council on Foreign Relations

Part of what makes 5G so special is its potential to be used across a wider variety of applications including autonomous vehicles and manufacturing. Perhaps it’s here where American tech firms can use their innovative capacity and software expertise to carve out an advantage.

China

Being the world’s largest manufacturer means China is well-positioned to leverage the power of 5G networks. With nearly 11 million 5G-enabled jobs and over $1.3 trillion in output by 2035, China’s estimates are magnitudes larger than the other countries on this list.

A reason why China is such a cost-efficient place to make things is its well-established network of suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors. All three of these sectors are likely to implement 5G networks for improved speed and efficiency.

China is no slouch when it comes to innovation, either. In terms of patent activity, it ranks second in the world. Shenzhen, once a small fishing village, has become China’s answer to Silicon Valley, and is home to domestic telecom giants like Huawei and ZTE Corporation.

Yet, China faces serious obstacles as it seeks to supply the rest of the world with 5G equipment. Huawei is the subject of U.S. sanctions over allegations of its dealings with Iran. Further skepticism arises from the company’s dubious ownership structure, reliance on state subsidies, and claims of espionage.

Huawei’s quest for dominance in the global telecommunications industry has involved tactics and practices that are antithetical to fair, healthy competition.

– Foreign Policy (magazine)

Regardless of the damage these controversies may cause, China shows no signs of slowing down. The country already holds bragging rights for the world’s largest 5G consumer network, and even claims to have begun research on 6G, an eventual successor to 5G.

The Waiting Game

It’s important to remember that the vast majority of 5G benefits are still years away.

Thus, this next generation of mobile networks can be thought of as an enabling technology—new innovations and complementary technologies will be needed to realize its full potential.

While today’s infographic paints an intuitive visualization of the 5G roadmap, only time will tell which industries and countries actually see the most benefits.

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