The push to convert mobile to currency.

As more people lean heavily on their mobile device for a range of needs, data usage is soaring. Strategy Analytics forecasts that global mobile data usage will increase threefold by 2017, driven in part to Web browsing and video streaming. With carriers adding data caps and raising fees, some companies are finding ways to convert mobile access into a currency.

Several services tap into demand for data to drive action, enabling marketers to award data and mobile minutes in exchange for consumers performing certain tasks. Jana, which is designed for emerging markets, currently claims access to nearly 3.5 billion consumers in 102 countries. It rewards mobile users with instant airtime in exchange for completing surveys, installing apps and viewing videos, among other actions. (Read our Q&A with Nathan Eagle, Jana’s founder, here.) Aquto works in a similar way: Using its Kickbit app, mobile consumers watch videos, take surveys, try free trials and so on, then transfer their earned data to their mobile provider. A June survey that Aquto conducted in the U.S., the U.K., Germany and Italy found that 49 percent of people expressed interest in watching ads in return for mobile Internet.

Wi-Fi access is another form of currency. Karma is a startup that enables users to monetize their Wi-Fi networks. Customers receive a small wireless router; each time another Karma user logs on to this network, the owner receives a credit of 100MB of data, which he or she can use to access another person’s network when needed.

As the mobile device evolves into an indispensible Mobile Fingerprint—one of our 10 Trends for 2013—minutes, data and connectivity are becoming a valued currency.

Image credit: Kickbit