The mobile payments market is young, having had its real origins only within the last 20 years. The invention of the smartphone as we currently understand it in the early 21st century was a major turning point enabling much of modern mobile payments, but it should be noted that many mobile payment services do not require even a phone capable of connecting to the internet.


Listed below are the major milestones in the journey of the mobile payments theme, as identified by GlobalData.

1995 – The first contactless cards are used for electronic ticketing in Seoul.

1997 – Coca-Cola enables SMS purchasing at some vending machines.

1997 – Exxon Mobile begins accepting RFID payments at fuel pumps via Speedpass.

1997 – The phrase “mobile commerce” is coined at the first Global Mobile Commerce Forum.

1998 – PayPal is founded (as Confinity).

1998 – Purchasing of ringtones etc., on mobile phones.

2004 – Alipay is launched.

2007 – The iPhone is unveiled by Steve Jobs.

2007 – M-Pesa is launched.

2007 – First contactless cards launched in the UK by Barclays.

2009 – Venmo is created.

2010 – Square launches its mobile point of sale (mPOS) service.

2011 – Starbucks Mobile Wallet is launched.

2012 – MCX is formed by American retail giants.

2013 – Touch ID is rolled out on iPhones.

2013 – MobilePay is launched in Denmark.

2013 – PayPal buys Braintree, acquiring its subsidiary Venmo.

2014 – Apple Pay is launched.

2014 – WeChat Pay is launched.

2014 – Development of host card emulation software for Android smartphones.

2015 – PayPal launches One Touch mobile payment service.

2017 – MCX, now renamed CurrentC, is dissolved and sold off to JPMorgan Chase.

2018 – Launch of SGQR mobile QR code payment scheme in Singapore.

2019 – Strong Customer Authentication regulations are rolled out in the European Union (EU).

2019 – European mobile payment systems form a joint scheme, the European Mobile Payment Systems Association (EMPSA).

2020 – Ant Financial raises record-breaking $30bn through initial public offering.

2022 – Mass consumer adoption of bank transfer-based mobile payments in the EU.

2023 – M-commerce accounts for the majority of global online spending.

2025 – Sweden becomes the world’s first fully cashless society.

This is an edited extract from the Mobile Payments – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.