Is There Anything We Won't Buy On Mobile?

I shared some interesting stats this week from someone in the loan business that got me thinking about to what degree consumers would actually buy things using a mobile device.

At the beginning of this year, which seems like three smartphone and two tablets ago, I wrote about loans being completed on mobile phones and tablets. At the time, it surprised me how many people were actually filling out lengthy forms on a small screen.

CUNA Mutual Group, the financial service provider that creates retirement and investment products sold through credit unions, had initially created the loan software called back in 2000 to be used on a PC.

Ten years after the launch, CUNA found that thousands of applications were coming in from smartphones and so adapted and created a mobile Web version.

Earlier this week I touched base with John Putman, director, Lending Business Systems, at CUNA Mutual for an update. What surprised me is the difference in the results from the beginning of the year to now:

  • Loan applications have risen from 100 a day to 166 a day
  • Total since smartphone launch rose from 15,000 to 43,000
  • Android and iPhone were about the same then, now -- 58% Apple, 42% Android
  • Of Apple loans, from iPhone 68%, iPad 26%; to 51% iPhone, 49% iPad



If people will use smartphones to fill out lengthy loan application forms, I started researching what else they might be buying.

Movie tickets is the obvious category, although not everybody does this yet. However, Fandango did see a third of its movie tickets sold over the summer come from mobile. App downloads also are up 43 percent to a total of 26 million downloads.

Then there are airline ticket sales. You would think this would be a no-brainer, but it is more likely that the airline app you have tells you when your flight allegedly will leave and arrive, and some will let you know whether your baggage made the same plane you did. Sell you a ticket? Not so much.

The good news is that 89 percent of airlines plan to be selling tickets via mobile by 2015, according to a survey of IT trends in the airline industry by technology firm SITA. It may have broken that guitar, but kudos to United Airlines for being early on this one.

With travel another obvious mobile purchase, Expedia expects up to half its U.S. hotel bookings to be coming from mobile within two years.

Then there are cars. I bought our last car exclusively through the app -- a great experience, bypassing much of the car-buying hassle. So I had to wonder how many others might be auto-shopping from their phones.

If that is through using the eBay mobile app, it looks like a lot. eBay is selling more than 3,500 cars a week via mobile devices. The car mobile sale revenue is part of the company’s overall mobile revenue heading to $10 billion this year, according to CEO John Donahoe.

The eBay mobile app has been downloaded more than 90 million times, so plenty of people have the capability in their hands to buy cars.

In the U.K., smartphone car sales are booming, with mobile shoppers selecting exclusive cars including Porsches and Land Rovers with a tap. In that market, 45,000 cars were sold via smarthphone in the first three months this year.

In the U.S., more than 180,000 car sales a year are being bought via eBay mobile. Car parts and accessories via mobile? More than 9 million a year.

Perhaps the better question is whether there is anything consumers will not buy on mobile. It appears that if it can be bought, it will be bought on mobile.

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