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Find out the week’s top mobile stories from around the world.

This week..  Apple puts ads in the App Store, China hits big with proximity payments, smartphones dip to single digit growth and much more.

Chinese consumers lead the world in paying with their phones


China’s smartphone owners are way ahead of everyone else on the planet when it comes to in-store payments.

China is set to have 195 million people using their phones as a wallet by the end of 2016, according to data released today by eMarketer. That represents 38 percent of all smartphones users in the country – which is double the rate of store payments in the US.

Popular messaging app WeChat, which is used by pretty much everyone in China, has a mobile wallet feature that covers both online and in-store payments. WeChat and arch-rival app Alipay are now such a common way to pay for things that most stores have signs like this (the green speech bubble one is for WeChat):

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Gartner says worldwide smartphone sales to slow in 2016

Mobile Marketing Magazine

Worldwide Smartphone Sales to Grow 7 Percent in 2016

Smartphone Sales Recorded Highest Growth of 73 Percent in 2010

Gartner, Inc. said global smartphone sales will continue to slow and will no longer grow in double digits. Worldwide smartphone sales are expected to grow 7 percent in 2016 to reach 1.5 billion units. This is down from 14.4 percent growth in 2015. In 2020, smartphone sales are on pace to total 1.9 billion units.

“The smartphone market will no longer grow at the levels it has reached over the last seven years,” said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner. “Smartphone sales recorded their highest growth in 2010, reaching 73 percent.”

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Facebook: We’re stripping messaging from mobile site – and you’re moving to Messenger

ZD Net

Facebook is telling users of its mobile website that they’ll need to install the Messenger app to see their messages.

TechCrunch reported that Facebook intends to cut off messages on its mobile site by this summer and has started to notify users that, “Your conversations are moving to Messenger.”

For now, users can dismiss the notification but after the summer Facebook says Messenger will be the only way to view conversations.

The move is reminiscent of Facebook’s removal of messages from its main mobile app in 2014, leaving users with the option of either installing the Messenger app or using its mobile site.

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Telecom giant Telenor launches a digital health service for emerging markets

Tech Crunch

There’s a new company entering the mobile healthcare space in Asia, and it is perhaps an unlikely name. That’s because telecom giant Telenor has launched Tonic, a service that provides basic medical information as well as more sophisticated services.

Tonic has launched first in Bangladesh via Telenor-owned Grameenphone, the country’s largest operator with over 57 million customers.

Bangladesh is the world’s eighth largest country with a population of 168 million people, yet there are just 0.4 doctors per 1,000 people and the World Health Organization estimates that 60 percent of national healthcare spend is not covered by insurance.

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US retailers joint venture MCX closes mobile wallet beta

Mobile Marketing Magazine

CurrentC, the mobile payment service developed by US merchant alliance MCX, is ending its beta test and postponing future releases, seemingly folding in the face of competition from the likes of Apple Pay.

The beta – which has been taking place in Columbus, Ohio, since last September – will come to an end on Tuesday 28 June. After that date, any gift cards or coupons that users have stored in the mobile wallet will be invalid.

So, is this the end for CurrentC? The announcement posted on the service’s site tells users to ‘stay tuned … as our future plans evolve’, suggesting it might not be done, but the FAQ on the same page acknowledges ‘we have not yet determined the future timing of CurrentC’.

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The app boom is over


Your phone is full of apps, and you’re done downloading new ones — unless they’re Snapchat or Uber.
The mobile app boom kicked off in July 2008, when Apple introduced the App Store. Now it is over.

People are still making plenty of apps, of course. And many people are still downloading them. But the go-go growth days are gone.

If you are an independent app developer or publisher, you have probably known this for a while, because you have found it very difficult to get people to download your app — the average American smartphone user downloads zero apps per month.

But now even the very biggest app publishers are seeing their growth slow down or stop altogether.

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YouTube launches Smart Offline feature in India to schedule video downloads during cheaper off-peak hours


YouTube is introducing a new Smart Offline feature, available only in India for now, that lets mobile users take advantage of cheaper mobile data rates at night.

By and large, YouTube has traditionally required internet access to access videos, but because not all markets have ubiquitous mobile internet, Google has thrown some markets a bone by allowing offline access. Ad dollars are ad dollars at the end of the day, whether offline or online.

The Google-owned video-streaming giant first introduced offline mode for India, Indonesia, and the Philippines back in 2014, and later expanded it to cover more markets including the Middle East.

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It’s official: Ads are coming to the iPhone app store — here’s what they look like

Business Insider

Ads are coming to Apple’s App Store for iPhones and iPads, the company announced on Wednesday.

Soon, paid search ads will show up when users search for a new app. For example, hypothetically, Uber could pay to show up as the top search result for “taxi” or “car service.”

Phil Schiller, Apple senior vice president, told the Telegraph that the paid search ads will be chosen on an auction system like Google’s AdWords, and advertisers can choose specific demographics to target.

Apple will only display one ad per search, and it will be clearly marked with a blue background. Here’s what the ads will look like.

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France releases terror alert app ahead of Euro 2016


The French government has released a mobile phone app to alert the public in the event of a terrorist attack.

The app is being released ahead of the Euro 2016 football tournament, which starts on Friday.
It will alert geo-located users “in case of a suspected attack”, the interior ministry said in a statement (in French).

The government said the app was developed after November’s attacks in Paris. which killed 130 people.

On Tuesday, the British Foreign Office warned that stadiums, fan zones and transport hubs were possible targets for attack during the football tournament.

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Tesco Mobile Xtras will let you save £3 a month by viewing mobile ads

Mobile Choice

Tesco Mobile has partnered with Unlockd to launch Tesco Xtras, a great new way for smartphone users to save money on their monthly plans by viewing ads and offers.

Those who will opt in to Tesco Xtras will save an extra £3 a month on mobile bills and will view ads and offers upon unlocking their Android phones.

Tesco Xtras is a lot more unique than what major network operators are offering at present. The new service presents a win-win situation both for consumers as well as mobile advertisers, even though we aren’t sure how many would want to repeatedly view advertisements on their Android phones just to save a few pounds every month. However, Tesco Mobile claims that subscribers of its lowest SIM only tariff rate will be able to save as much as 40 per cent off their monthly bills.

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