The APAC region is part of a global force evolving the payments landscape. Adaptations to demands from people and situations have resulted in the digitization of payments, rapidly changing how people pay for goods and services. Digital wallets, embedded finance, BNPL (Buy Now Pay Later), RTP, and A2A (Account to Account) payments have become part of the mosaic payments landscape. In a recent McKinsey interview with Asian banks, there was a consensus that the payments space was “fast-evolving” as a way to “meet customer needs in a seamless manner.” The interview highlighted the need for banks to see payments as a “holistic business, not just an enabler.” With this thought in mind, how are payments enabling consumers, merchants, and banks in APAC, and why should merchants take advantage of this move to a more efficient and consumer-friendly marketplace?
Why digitize payments?
Cash may have once been king, but the world has seen significant changes in the payments arena in the last few years. From a pandemic to rising inflation and supply chain challenges, payments have been digitally transformed to surmount these obstacles. Consumers have high expectations, wanting a fast, seamless, and secure payment experience. These driving forces coalesce around specific payment innovations: digital wallets, RTP (real-time payments), and A2A (account-to-account). Convenience, security, and speed are the watchwords of the digital transformation of payments, and APAC is leading the charge.
How do consumers pay in the APAC region?
A 2023 report from analyst firm Mordor Intelligence, on the APAC payments marketplace offer the following insights:
- China and India have 50% of the world's smartphone population, providing the perfect environment for mainstream e-Wallet use.
- Governments in the APAC region are driving cashless payments.
- Cashless payment adoption is over 90% across many APAC countries.
Globally, digital wallets are rapidly replacing real-world wallets with 'tap to simplify,' making financial life seamless. The Reserve Bank of India’s Digital Payments Index (RBI-DPI) indicates strong growth in online payments, with a 13.24% growth in the year ending March 2023. This pattern is repeated across the region. In Japan, for example, mobile payment platform PayPay has seen rapid expansion of over 38% between Q4 2021 and Q4 2022, with 1.39 billion transactions in that fiscal quarter.
Data from payments consultancy FYST shows that digital wallets represent almost 70% of the e-commerce transaction value in the region. Statistica data concurs with this finding, with 69% using digital wallets in 2022 in the APAC region.
A2A payments are also starting to find uptake across APAC, although lower than digital wallets. EY predict that as real time payments (RTP) become an incumbent in the payments landscape, A2A will follow, as it offers better customer experiences.
Reasons for the growth of digital wallets and A2A payments in APAC
Digital payments have experienced a fast trajectory since the Covid-19 pandemic. The pieces of a payments puzzle are coming together to help innovations soar. A core driving force behind the uptick in digital wallets and A2A are real-time payment (RTP) rails. RTP and instant payment systems are essential infrastructure improvements that can help with financial inclusion, an important factor in this diverse part of the world. Faster payments also mean merchants receive money without delay, promoting economic growth.
Payment bridges that handle cross-border payments enable the payments landscape, providing the framework and standards to handle payments quickly, securely, and under varying jurisdictional regulations. These provide the infrastructure needed to deliver innovation that benefits all payments stakeholders.
eWallets that are leading the way in APAC
FYST has described the APAC region as the “birthplace of the digital wallet.” China leads the way with the highly popular WeChat Pay and Alipay. Other eWallets include the following (Data from FYST):
India: ZeeWallet, JioMoney, Paytm, PhonePe
China: GoPay, Baidu, Tenpay
Japan: Mer, PayPay
Thailand: GrabPay, TrueMoney, Rabbit LINE Pay
Why should merchants expand their payment network?
Digital innovations are not developed in isolation. They require supporting networks, protocols, and infrastructures that build the rails to run payments upon. Merchants who utilize these supporting rails can offer their customers a better buying experience, the choice being an essential element of usability. APAC merchants must be able to handle multiple payment methods; there is no one size fits all wallet, for example. Expanding the merchant's network to accept numerous forms of payment will naturally expand your customer base potential. Add RTP to provide the payback with instant access to funds. As the APAC region continues to innovate to deliver seamless and fast payments, the merchants who expand their payment network will be part of this evolution.
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