With 140% mobile penetration, Malaysia has 10M smartphone users

Acc to On Device research, Malaysia’s mobile landscape is performing better than most Southeast Asian countries, and even the United States

On Device Research has recently published an interesting report on Mobile Malaysia: ahead of the pack. The report helps us to understand the mobile landscape in Malaysia, especially the smartphone trend, and how it implies to mobile commerce and mobile payment.

To our surprise (and possibly yours too), Malaysia fares better in mobile landscape compared to most Southeast Asia countries, and even United States!

Key statistics of mobile users in Malaysia

Key Internet & mobile statistics in Malaysia
Key Internet & mobile statistics in Malaysia

First of all, let’s go through some of the key indicators of internet and mobile landscape in Malaysia:

Population: 29 million, 70 per cent urban
(officially surpassed 30 million by 27 Feb 2014)

Internet penetration: 66 per cent
(that means ~ 20 million internet users)

Mobile penetration: 140 per cent
(47 per cent Malaysians own more than 1 mobile phone)

3G subscription: 10 million
(more than 15 million according to MCMC)

According to World Bank, Malaysia, with 140 per cent mobile penetration, is leading Indonesia, Thailand and even United States! Only Singapore and Vietnam in Southeast Asia have higher mobile penetration than Malaysia.

Read Also: E-Commerce Infographic: Understanding online shoppers in Malaysia

Our earlier report shows 27 per cent smartphone penetration, but the latest data stands at 35 per cent, which means there are more than 10 million smartphone users in Malaysia. McCann even predicted that smartphone penetration in Malaysia will rise to 60 per cent by 2015.

Smartphone penetration rate in Malaysia
Smartphone penetration rate in Malaysia

On Device Research has also presented a breakdown of smartphone OS in Malaysia, with Android leading with 65 per cent, followed by iOS and Windows.

Due to the fact that three major mobile carriers in Malaysia are competing with each other in customer acquisition, affordable smartphone plans are the major factors contributing to the smartphone adoption.

Breakdown of smartphone OS and telco in Malaysia
Breakdown of smartphone OS and telco in Malaysia

Mobile commerce in Malaysia

According to Nielsen and PayPal Analysis, e-commerce market size in Malaysia was supposed to be RM 3.65 billion in 2013, including the transactions of both, services and products. If we refer to Euromonitor’s report, RM 1.24 billion (or 34 per cent of PayPal’s report) are products-only transactions.

Mobile commerce market size in Malaysia
Mobile commerce market size in Malaysia

Nielsen-PayPal reported RM 1.82 billion of mobile commerce in 2013, which represents close to 50 per cent of total e-commerce market size. Interestingly, mobile share of online commerce was only 5.5 per cent as recent as 2010, and it is projected to reach 59.6 per cent in 2015.

Next, what do Malaysians purchase on their mobile devices?

Top mobile commerce categories in Malaysia
Top mobile commerce categories in Malaysia

As expected, movie tickets are the main driver for smartphone purchases followed by fashion and accessories, while airline tickets are the most popular items Malaysians purchase on tablets.

Mobile payment

Since movie tickets are the most popular items Malaysians buy on smartphone, let’s take a look at what kind of mobile payment methods accepted by the leading cinema in Malaysia – GSC.

Mobile payments accepted by GSC
Mobile payments accepted by GSC

If you refer to the screenshot above, GSC only accepts M2U, RHB (both online banking) and PayPal. We personally think PayPal provides the best user experience in m-payment, as compared to online banking which requires Transaction Authorisation Code (TAC).

As per our analysis of top online payment methods in Malaysia, only 12.5 per cent of payments here are going through PayPal, Cash, COD, Celcom AirCash etc. Plus, there are only a few hundred thousands of PayPal users in Malaysia.

This reflects the reality of lack of strong mobile payment services in Malaysia.

Mobile payments in Malaysia
Mobile payments in Malaysia

According to World Pay, only 0.3 per cent of transactions are m-payments, which by definition (should be) specialised payment services like M-money.

On Device research has summarised the reasons on why m-payments might not be even required in Malaysia:

Bank accounts are common and easily accessible to a large majority — bank transfers are the most common way to pay for things online

Credit cards are reasonably widely used — over 8 million Malaysians have one

None of the three mobile operators enjoy a monopoly that would make it easier to introduce a widely adopted m-payments solution

For more mobile insights in Malaysia, check out the slides by On Device Research below (or view it on SlideShare):

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