Increase in the use of mobile payments in Asia

Mobile payment options are the growing trend in many Asian countries. With the increase in smartphone use in third-world Asian countries and an ever-increasing selection of mobile payment services, Asians are taking to mobile payment technology like ducks to water.

China leads Asian mobile payments

Many Asians use mobile payments for the security it provides, and the convenience of not having to carry cash. But while countries like India and China are booming with mobile payment use, other countries are hanging back, for fear of identity theft and for the lack of mobile payment terminals in many retail establishments.

China is a world leader in mobile payments. Businessmen and executives are not the only ones using cashless payments. Every day, ordinary people are moving towards mobile payment options. In a recent poll by a Beijing newspaper, more than 70 percent said they would have no problem leaving home without cash. And in the growing Chinese market, this comes as no surprise. With 469 million mobile payments made on the Chinese mainland in 2016, it is now the largest and fastest-growing market in the world for mobile payments.

Restrictions on business help local apps

While China is moving fast into mobile payments, progressive places like Singapore are falling behind. According to a report by Ernst And Young, only 4 percent of Singaporeans use mobile payments, compared to 40 percent of Chinese. This is mainly down to China’s restrictions on foreign companies, which has allowed home-grown apps to flourish. Alipay and WeChat Pay, both local Chinese-built apps, have led the Chinese market in mobile payments.

More strict controls are being implemented

However, the recent spate of hacking incidents – one of which saw a breach of over 20 million accounts – has meant the government is getting stricter on mobile payment regulations. E-wallet providers will be expected to make apps more secure with facial recognition and biometric security systems to reassure consumers and protect sensitive data.

Asia skipped using credit cards

The overall penetration of mobile technology is already seeing almost 75 percent using smartphones. The younger population of Asia is increasingly tech-savvy and has resulted in a major increase in the adoption of the latest technology. Previously a cash-dominated region, Asia has bypassed the use of cards and moved straight on to mobile technology payment options. E-wallets offer an unparalleled simplicity and are more convenient than credit or bank cards.

Super-apps were pioneered by Tencent

One of the most important things to come out of Asia in recent years is the new “super-app”, which has allowed companies to host multiple services in one app. WeChat owners, Tencent, were the pioneers of this in Asia, and it has since spread across the region. Now western companies are starting to adopt this technology, with the likes of Facebook expanding their messenger services to include a payment service as well as an Uber interface.

Indians move to cashless society

In India, the government has made the bold move towards a wholly cashless society. The vision of the government is to transform the country into the first “digitally empowered society”. And with MasterCard recently introducing Samsung Pay payment options in its gateway, it has increased that possibility even more. However, there is a growing trend in cybercrime attached to India’s move to cashless payments. The government’s encouragement to use cashless transactions could help to curb corruption, tax evasion, and cash-based crime. However, the initial payment solutions used did not have adequate security measures in place to guarantee that ordinary Indians were not going to be victims of cybercrime .

Asia has potential for mobile payment market

Other Asian countries are showing major indications of the moves towards mobile payments as well. Indonesia looks set to be the next Asian country that will explode into the mobile payments revolution. With a population in excess of 250 million, they are ranked in the top twenty world economies. Mobile payments are already starting to take off there.

Mobile payments are already in the Philippines

The Philippines is another Asian country with the potential for the mobile payments market. Over 80 percent of the country already uses smartphones, and the Filipino mobile networks have had their own set of person-to-person (P2P) payment systems for more than a decade. And with over half of the country’s population speaking English, mobile payments are starting to become more popular. Google Wallet, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay are already widely accepted in the malls across the country.

Japan is holding back mobile payment 

However, while many Asian countries are trending towards digital payments – especially mobile payments – Japan’s ordinary citizens are still more used to cash than credit cards or mobile payments. Caused by concern over the security of mobile payments, Japanese smartphone owners are now starting to show some interest in mobile payments. According to a study by Meiji Yasuda, almost 70 percent of Japanese consumers still prefer to use cash when making a purchase in a physical store.

However, in a recent survey by Japanese advertising firm, Hakuhodo, 41.3 percent of male smartphone users expressed an interest in consolidating all their payment options onto their mobile phones. And that technology has been available in Japan for more than ten years. Osaifu-Keitai, which means “mobile wallet”, is the common name for the main payment tool that stores and uses card information, train tickets, loyalty cards, etc.

Apple Pay and Samsung Pay are also making strides into the Japanese market, and are both hoping to get more Japanese to move to mobile payments. It is the main, untapped market in southeast Asia.

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