5 Emerging Market Technology Trends to Watch

Emerging markets are driving new tech innovations

Businessman using cell phone in train station

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Businesses are finding that the fastest adopters of technology are in mobile markets and that mobile is growing fastest in emerging markets. Companies increasingly have to account for the unique needs of the emerging market consumer.

The rise in wealth in emerging markets is overwhelming, and it will be a powerful force in shaping the new technology to come. Here are five areas in new technology that will be affected by the forces of emerging markets.

Low-cost Mobile Devices

While Apple continues its dominance in the mobile device arena in the developed world, emerging markets are being flooded with low-cost smartphones.

Smartphone manufacturers have made big bets that high-income consumers will continue to demand ever-increasing power in their mobile devices, but manufacturers for emerging markets have seized upon the idea that lower-cost alternatives will become the norm. Cheap Android-based software and low-powered chips like the Intel Atom have made emerging markets a key battleground for device manufacturers like Samsung, Nokia, and LG, who all offer a range of targeted products.

Mobile Infrastructure

Unlike many developed nations that built their internet infrastructure upon legacy telephone systems, emerging markets typically don't share this constraint. In fact, the mobile infrastructure in these areas is often the first of its kind. These "blue sky" opportunities have generated a great deal of competition among mobile providers for infrastructure contracts in emerging markets. Companies like Bharti, Telefonica and America Movil have created mobile networks that rival, and sometimes outperform, those of developed nations.

Mobile Payments

The mobile phone has become an essential part of daily life for many consumers in emerging markets, and making payments on mobile devices has become the norm. Consumer adoption of mobile payment systems in these markets has far outpaced the uptake of similar systems in Europe and North America. A huge proportion of consumers in emerging markets have far better access to mobile devices than they do to banks and financial institutions, and so mobile payments have filled that gap.

Financial Services

Mobile technology has been used in emerging markets to empower all forms of financial services. One notable example of this is in micro-finance. Platforms like Kiva have allowed users in developed nations to make donations over the web directly to borrowers in developing nations.

Technology has been used in developing countries to provide tracking and accounting for micro-loans, empowering individuals and small organizations to provide financial services in areas that banks do not reach.

Healthcare Technology

Healthcare costs are rising in developed nations and emerging markets alike. But in emerging markets, greater concerns exist around the availability of qualified professionals and the distribution of much-needed medical supplies. These concerns drive a number of innovations in technology, and there are already product offerings that aim to address these pressing concerns.

Much of the focus is on low-cost, easy-to-operate diagnostic devices. These devices will make patient triage and diagnosis far more efficient, ensuring that already strained resources are used for maximum impact. For example, "virtual visits" allow qualified professionals to connect with remote patients and have become a huge factor in helping improve patient outcomes in resource-deprived areas.