5 billion mobile phone users in 2017: GSMA

Around 2,250 companies are participating in the Mobile World Congress underway in Barcelona, Spain. More than 150,000 visitors from all across the world are expected to attend the four-day exhibition. (AN photo)
Updated 28 February 2017
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5 billion mobile phone users in 2017: GSMA

BARCELONA: The number of mobile phone users globally will surpass 5 billion by June, according to a study released by Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA).
With populations in Asia, and notably India, on the rise, the number, which stood at 4.8 billion a year ago, should mushroom to 5.7 billion, or three quarters of the world’s population, by 2020.
Asia will account for around half total growth, according to GSMA’s “Mobile Economy” report with India alone adding some 310 million new subscribers in the coming three years.
The release of the study coincides with the Mobile World Congress, the third-largest technology conference in the world, which kicked off in Barcelona, Spain on Monday. Around 2,250 companies are participating in the event and more than 150,000 visitors from all across the world are expected to attend the four-day exhibition.
Several mobile companies such as Huawei, Sony, LG, ZTE, BlackBerry and Samsung launched their new products to coincide with the opening of the event.
“Mobile is a global platform that today supports two-thirds of the world’s population, delivering the connectivity and infrastructure that is powering new digital economies and addressing socio-economic challenges,” said Mats Granryd, GSMA director-general.
“Our latest report reveals how the near ubiquity of smartphones and high-speed connectivity is enabling innovation in areas such as artificial intelligence and driving the digital transformation,” added Granryd, citing trillion-dollar investment in global networks since 2010.
That investment had seen the telecoms sector account for a 4.4 percent share of world GDP worth $3.3 trillion dollars last year, rising to a 4.9 percent share by 2020, for economic value equivalent to $4.2 trillion.
The report said the mobile ecosystem last year employed 28.5 million people directly or indirectly — a figure it said would rise to 30.9 million by 2020.
It added the sector would contribute $500 billion in tax receipts by 2020, up from $450 billion last year, not including revenue from spectrum auctions, worth almost $19 billion in 2016.
Operators are forecast to invest a further $700 billion by 2020 when 5G connectivity is set to bring ever-faster data connection.
Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer Business Group, said: “As culture and technology continue to intersect in every aspect of our world, we want to deliver new products and experiences that ultimately improve and enhance life.”
The main highlight of the event is the launch of the revamped version of Nokia’s iconic 3310 model, more than a decade after it was phased out.
“We are starting the next chapter for Nokia. Users will find the true Nokia brand’s attitudes such as reliability, simplicity, ease of use, human touch and quality in our devices,” said Arto Nummela, CEO of HMD Global.
During a conference held on the sidelines of the event, Keeper Security Inc., the world’s leading password manager and secure digital vault, announced the results of a survey analyzing mobile-device usage and security. Sponsored by Keeper Security, the study found that nearly 60 percent of mobile users have had to reset a password in the past two months. Respondents were two times more likely to have trouble logging into an account if they wrote their passwords down or tried to memorize them.
An alarming statistic found that 87 percent of mobile users between the ages of 18-30 reuse passwords across multiple websites and applications. This bad habit could result in millions of accounts being compromised since hackers typically test a stolen password against multiple accounts including banking, retail, social media, e-mail and health care websites.
According to the GSMA report, 2016 saw 580 4G networks launched in 188 countries covering 60 percent of the world population.
The organization added 55 percent of overall connections were now running on mobile broadband (3G/4G) networks, which are forecast to account for almost three-quarters of connections by 2020.

— With input from AFP


Turkish lira weakens after cenbank repos resume, FX purchase move

Updated 27 min 6 sec ago
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Turkish lira weakens after cenbank repos resume, FX purchase move

ANKARA/ISTANBUL: The Turkish lira weakened on Tuesday after the central bank lowered the swap market lira interest rate and held a repo auction for the first time in nearly two weeks, reversing a policy tightening step it had taken to support the currency.
A currency crisis last year wiped nearly 30% off the lira’s value against the dollar and it has fallen further in 2019.
The lira weakened as far as 6.0860 against the US currency after the central bank moves, compared with a close of 6.0315 on Monday. At 1012 GMT, it stood at 6.0500.
The central bank injected 17 billion lira ($2.8 billion) in the repo, the first since it suspended them on May 9. It lowered the lira interest rate in swap transactions to 24% from 25.5%. Bankers said this would gradually lower the average cost of funding by the same amount, to the bank’s policy rate of 24%.
The steps came as investors weighed up Turkey’s banking watchdog decision to impose a one-day settlement delay for FX purchases of more than $100,000 by individuals. Bankers said that move could raise concerns about capital controls.
“The administration seems to be increasingly desperate to keep the lira stable at all costs ahead of the re-run of the crucial vote in Istanbul,” said Rabobank emerging markets forex strategist Piotr Matys, commenting on the forex purchases move.
“Instead of providing investors with a much needed assurance, such measures will have the opposite effect, as the market will interpret it as rising interference in the banking sector.”
The decision by election authorities to re-run the Istanbul mayoral vote has fueled concerns about an erosion of democracy and unnerved financial markets, helping push the lira down another 13% this year. The ruling AK Party’s narrow defeat in the initial election in March was the first time in 25 years that President Tayyip Erdogan’s party or its Islamist predecessors had lost control of Turkey’s biggest city.
Matys said the repo move was a contradictory measure at a time when Turkey needs to restore confidence in the lira.
“Such conflicting policies make Turkey increasingly unpredictable and keep the upside bias in USD/TRY intact,” he added, saying initial resistance was around 6.2282, with a break higher exposing the 6.46-6.50 area as the next potential target.
HIGH-FREQUENCY TRADERS TARGETED
A BDDK watchdog letter sent to banks on Monday said the settlement date for those purchases of more than $100,000 — or equivalent in other currencies — will be the following day.
“This one-day delay on FX transaction for retail investors is curious, especially when they take away the increase in rates in the morning,” said Charles Robertson, global chief economist at Renaissance Capital. “It’s a hint of capital controls, and the threat of more is implicit.”
Beste Naz Sullu, of Gedik Investment, said the BDDK was trying to curb foreign exchange speculation, but added that the market “does not like measures such as this much.”
The BDDK said on Tuesday the forex purchases move, effective from Tuesday, aimed to prevent “unnecessary and unjust harm” to the market, particularly by high-frequency traders.
Authorities have recently taken unorthodox steps to protect the currency, including state banks selling dollars. Ankara also raised a tax on some foreign exchange sales to 0.1% from zero last week to discourage Turks converting savings to foreign currencies.
Turks have flocked to foreign currencies in the months since last year’s crisis hit its peak in August, when the lira fell as much as 42% against the dollar.
The lira woes helped tip the economy into recession last year and Turkish Statistical Institute data on Tuesday showed consumer confidence tumbled to 55.3 points in May, the lowest level since the data was first published in 2004.
The main share index fell 1.26 percent.