Mobile tech reaches global tipping point

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Mobile technology is now firmly at the heart of the global economy with over 50% of the world’s population relying on it, according to the 2019 State of Mobile report.

Published by App Annie and highlighted by mobile specialist MyFirmsApp, the global mobile technology report estimated that 3.9bn people were online in 2018. Including tablets and phones, there were more than 4bn devices in circulation and 96% of the world’s population lived within range of a mobile network.

In key economies including Japan, Brazil and the UK consumer mobile spending accelerated significantly faster than overall gross domestic product (GDP). Few will be surprised by the demographics driving the mobile surge, with “Generation Z” users (age 16-24) spending 20% more time and using their favourite apps, 30% more often than the rest of the population.

“For Gen Z, mobile is second nature and used across nearly all aspects of life - communication, socialising, shopping, banking, etc,” commented MyFirmsApp. “Mobile is non-negotiable to any business hoping to attract this demographic.”

The MFA analysis draws attention to mobile’s impact in the financial world, marking 2018 out as a “turning point for fintech apps”. Downloads of finance apps rose to 3.4bn in 2018 out of a global total of 194bn. The finance growth rate since 2016 was 75% compared to the overall average of 35%.

Consumer banking is leading the way and contributing to the stickiness that fosters habitual behaviours among users. According to the report, UK users checked their bank apps more than seven times a week, reflecting the UK’s growing status as a fintech hub. In Australia, however, the trend is even more marked with bank app users checking their accounts 10 times a week.

Implications for accountants

Nearer home, AccountingWEB now gets more than 25% of its traffic from tablet and mobile devices, and though we have seen fluctuations during the past five years, practice entrants to our Accounting Excellence Awards are embracing apps in growing numbers. Our chart shows the trend since 2013, with a marked increase last year:

Accounting Excellence practice app adoption 2013-18

Accounting Excellence practice app adoption

As well as playing an essential role in capturing income and expense details on mobile phones – an important first step for many towards the digital record keeping requirements laid down for Making Tax Digital. Mobile apps are also becoming important adjuncts to core bookkeeping tools.

Since 2017, AccountingWEB has been documenting the rise of digital accounting assistants like Sage Pegg, QuickBooks Assistant and Unit4’s Wanda. The jury is still out about the extent to which these intelligent chatbots will infiltrate core accounting activities, but MyFirmsApp is urging accountants not to underestimate mobile technology “as it allows accountants to engage with clients on their smartphones and tablets digitally 24x7 and they get to live in their clients’ pockets and at the heart of their mobile lives”.

About John Stokdyk

John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight

AccountingWEB’s Head of Insight has been with the site since 1999 and likes to spend his time studying accountants’ technology habits. When not nerding out, you can find him exploring obscure indie music and searching for the perfect organic sourdough loaf from his base in Brighton, UK.

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26th Feb 2019 17:01

As long as there is genuine useful utility to be had by being on a mobile that's great. It doesn't necessarily mean that you need 'an app for that'.

Creating a meaningful experience (ie not wanting to delete it, or throw your phone in the bin in frustration) is not always successfully done.

So - inherently useful, easy to use, focused, and regularly updated are pretty good yard sticks. Everything else is probably nice fluff or a highly addictive game (take yer pick)

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