Vietnam is the fastest-growing global market in mobile payments, clocking a 24 percent climb from last year, with 61 percent of its consumers tapping such services. Across the globe, China leads the pack with 86 percent of its population tapping mobile payments, followed by Thailand at 67 percent.
In fact, the world's top 10 mobile payments adopters are in eight Asian markets including Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines, according to PwC's Global Consumer Insights Survey 2019. The study polled more than 21,000 respondents from 27 territories, which included six Southeast Asian markets and Australia, Canada, Germany, and the UK.
Across the globe, the average growth rate was 24 percent, with 34 percent of all consumers tapping mobile to pay for their purchases.
Thailand saw its adoption climb to 67 percent, while Malaysia clocked a 17 percent increase to 40 percent this year and the Philippines marked a 14 percent growth to 45 percent. Indonesia recorded the slowest increase in mobile payments adoption at 9 percent to hit 47 percent.
Mobile payments adoption in Singapore rose to 46 percent this year, up from 34 percent in 2018, where its growth was in part fuelled by government efforts to drive such platforms in the country, though, the vast number of choices and legacy systems might drag down usage.
PwC's Strategy& payments director Shirish Jain noted: "Asia remains the powerhouse in leading the customer shift to mobile payments with the report reflecting eight Asian nations in the top 10, and six are in Southeast Asia. Vietnam, with its relatively low penetration in 2018, has registered the highest growth as mobile platforms demonstrate a significant increase in convenience over traditional means of commerce.
"This contrasts with Singapore that also shows strong gains. However, the sophisticated and established traditional ecosystem, as well as abundant and potentially confusing number of choices in mobile payments can also slow down adoption," Jain explained. "This finding highlights a timely confluence of four principal factors: stages of economic growth cycles driving affluence and disposable income; the availability of platforms that address local demographic needs including support for cash-on-delivery; the lower cost for retailers and providers; and a marked increase in convenience."
The PwC study revealed that Asian consumers were more socially engaged online than their peers in Europe and the Americas. Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam led in terms of making purchases directly through social media posts via platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, with 50 percent, 49 percent, and 48 percent, respectively, doing so.
In comparison, worldwide, just 21 percent said they made purchases directly through social media channels, which were found to have the most influence in purchasing decisions related to fashion.
Charles Loh, PwC's Southeast Asia consumer and industrial products consulting lead, said "Social media platforms are already mature in Southeast Asia. The trend in online shopping, moving forward, is the consolidation of e-commerce players with fewer big players providing that gateway. There seems to be a consolidator present in every market."
In addition, 9 percent of consumers worldwide used voice technology to shop online at least once a week.
Achieving scale is critical to ensure the viability of mobile payment systems and there needs to be regulatory and industry alignment across Asia-Pacific, as well as globally, for such payments to hit mainstream.
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Originally scheduled to come into effect at the end of January, e-payment user protection guidelines will now be rolled out on June 30, after industry regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore agrees to give local banks more time to implement the necessary support systems.
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Major players such as those from North Asia have begun offering their e-payment services in this region, but these cater mainly to their domestic customers travelling overseas, says Singtel exec, on the objective behind the Razer partnership.