Key Trends in Mobile Financial Services in the European Union

by Bart Narter, July 20, 2009
Industry Trends


The European Union is often portrayed as a single economic block, and its member countries are quite homogenous in terms of mobile phone penetration (most are above 100%) and mobile phone technology. However, scratch beneath the EU veneer, and it quickly becomes apparent that the status of mobile financial services varies widely across European countries.

In a new report, Key Trends in Mobile Financial Services in the European Union, Celent examines the current penetration and growth opportunities for mobile financial services in the EU. Mobile financial services consist of both mobile banking and mobile payments and vary by EU country. Differences among countries have arisen due to factors that are external to mobile technology.

In particular, mobile financial service adoption is heavily influenced by Internet banking penetration and the sophistication of incumbent payment systems (such as card payment s). The more entrenched Internet banking is, the more likely that mobile banking will play a secondary role. The more sophisticated the incumbent payment system, the more likely that mobile payments will take on a niche role. Depending on the country, these factors can be quite different, resulting in varying mobile financial service environments.

"Although there is opportunity for mobile financial services in the EU, players in this space have to be fully aware that the ‘one size fits all’ principle certainly does not apply," says Perrine Fiorina, analyst with Celent's banking group and author of the report.

Celent’s report classifies the potential for mobile banking in EU countries and regions as follows:

  • Mobile banking as an Internet banking complement: Nordic countries, France/Benelux, Germany/Austria and the UK/Ireland.

  • Mobile banking as a parallel channel to Internet banking: Baltic countries, Central Europe and Iberia.

  • Mobile banking as the main, stand-alone e-banking channel: Mediterranean countries and Bulgaria.

Similarly, mobile payment opportunities differ by country and region:

  • Mobile payments in a “niche plus” (niche + remittances) role: the UK/Ireland.

  • Mobile payments in a niche role: Nordic countries, Germany/Austria, France/Benelux, Iberia, Baltic countries and Mediterranean countries.

  • Mobile payments in a wider role: Central Europe and Bulgaria/Romania.

This report provides background data for EU member countries and regions, as well as examples of recent mobile financial service initiatives in those countries.

Celent is a research and advisory firm dedicated to helping financial institutions formulate comprehensive business and technology strategies. Celent publishes reports identifying trends and best practices in financial services technology and conducts consulting engagements for financial institutions looking to use technology to enhance existing business processes or launch new business strategies. With a team of internationally based analysts, Celent is uniquely positioned to offer strategic advice and market insights on a global basis. Celent is a member of the Oliver Wyman Group, which is a wholly-owned operating unit of Marsh & McLennan Companies [NYSE: MMC].

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Table of Contents

Executive Summary

What Are "Mobile Financial Services?"

Why Do Mobile Financial Services Matter?

Recent Developments in Mobile Finance in Europe


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