Finding synergy in the digital economy

The NBN will greatly improve our e-commerce capabilities as growth in mobile payment systems and new social media concepts like Facebook Credits and Pinterest open up new opportunities.

A positive outcome from the financial crisis was that it resulted in global attention turning to new infrastructure developments; facilitating a unique opportunity to shift the broadband emphasis from a high-speed internet service to a national infrastructure for the digital economy that will underpin a range of positive social and economic developments.

These developments are also referred to as the Internet of Things, of which the digital economy will play a key role.

E-commerce is just one sector that will benefit from improvements in infrastructure and a trans-sector approach to governance; e-government, e-health, e-education, social media and e-science are also important elements of a digital economy. Here are some of the key elements and considerations required to grow the digital economy further.

Based on the trans-sector model the NBN will become the shared infrastructure for a range of sectors including the digital economy. A new way of thinking will be required to guide us through the next stage of human evolution, and the trans-sector approach to the NBN will be critical infrastructure in this process. What's needed is a push to recognise the importance of looking across sectors to create synergy. I am convinced that convergence offers unprecedented opportunities if the NBN is linked to trans-sector innovation, creating a true digital economy.

E-Commerce and m-commerce have become very important areas of focus for the mobile operators, internet media players, financial institutions and payment processing firms alike. Governing bodies are also recognising the importance of this sector – in early 2012 the European Commission (EC) outlined five priority areas it wanted to improve in order to increase e-commerce growth and its contribution to the GDP.

The e-commerce sector has become very competitive and different types of players are vying for position. A number of key developments have occurred, particularly in the mobile digital wallet space and with websites which offer “deals of the day”. New social media concepts such as Facebook Credits and Pinterest may also offer future e-commerce opportunities.

Into 2012 the main forms of online payments in Australia are still the use of credit cards and direct debit cards. Meanwhile PayPal has established itself as the most advanced e-payment system outside the banks with its mobile online payments increasing by more than 400 per cent year-on-year in 2011.

Spending on online advertising expenditure in Australia continues to reach new highs. The amount spent in the online advertisements segment in Australia is continuing to grow as does the expenditure by the businesses and consumers in this marketplace.

Driving the spending is often mobile devices where purchases can be made on a whim or as the need arises and by comparison shopping using the mobile device

By end-2011 online advertising had increased overall by around 17 per cent  year-on-year in 2011. The increase in online advertising may be in anticipation of an increased economic environment coming into 2012 as Australian businesses continue to increase the amount of onlinesales.

Mobile banking and e-banking is currently the big consumer ‘bank’ where most electronic transactions are done. But within a year or two, the open Android platform together with an open API type access platform there is a possibility m-commerce transactions will see the takeup of mobile money transfers slowly moving away from the big banks.

M-payments, however, could still be a lucrative market for the telcos, since they have the opportunity to bill customers via their mobile billing system and have the large customer databases. But telcos are combining to create international money transfer hubs that are being increasingly by mobile phone operators and will also challenge the banks.

Paul Budde is the managing director of BuddeComm, an independent telecommunications research and consultancy company, which includes 45 national and international researchers in 15 countries. 

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see the full BuddeComm report: Australia – E-Commerce, Marketing and Advertising

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