Spending habits in APAC shift to emerging payment technologies

People in the region have not only adopted new payment technologies, but made deliberate shifts based partly on necessity


THE pandemic has raised the enthusiasm for broader range of payment technologies in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region as 94% of the population will consider using at least one method, going from QR codes, digital or mobile wallets, instalment plans, cryptocurrencies or biometrics and others.

Mastercard APAC products and innovation executive VP Sandeep Malhotra said the company’s study finds that people in the region have not only adopted new payment technologies, but made deliberate shifts based partly on necessity, and also on considerations around personal safety, security and convenience, at a time when these concerns were paramount.

“Consumers in APAC have already gained recognition globally for their openness to new technologies and innovation, and these findings confirm that this trend is only set to continue as more digital payment options rapidly become mainstream in this part of the world,” he said in a statement yesterday.

The Mastercard New Payments Index was conducted in over 18 markets globally, including India, Australia and Thailand, revealing that 84% of consumers in the region have access to more ways to pay versus a year ago.

In addition, the study found that 74% of respondents would shop at small businesses with greater frequency if additional payment methods were offered.

As consumer demand increases, businesses of all sizes will face greater expectations to provide multiple ways to purchase and pay: About 80% of respondents agree that they now prefer to shop at stores that have both in-person and online presence, and 69% are more excited to shop at retailers who offer the latest payment methods.

This has grown to the point where 60% of consumers polled said they would avoid merchants that do not accept electronic payments of any kind.

Malhotra said the behaviour shift is reinforced by the people’s desire for choice.

“About 85% of consumers in APAC said they expect to make purchases when they want and how they want.

“Businesses that can provide multiple ways to shop and pay will be best positioned to meet the unique needs of this moment that are shaping the future of commerce for years to come,” he said.

The use of a range of payment technologies is seeing an upward trend as people are beginning to be comfortable with them, in a growing community.

The study found that in the coming year, 69% of respondents in APAC said they plan to use cashless frequently.

Meanwhile, digital or mobile wallets have gained significant popularity among consumers in APAC, with 68% of respondents anticipating using this type of payment next year, which is higher than the global average of 62%.

The survey found that 88% used at least one emerging payment type last year, two-thirds (64%) of all respondents (including 75% of millennials) said they tried new payment methods that they would not have tried if it was not for the pandemic.

In terms of emerging payment methods, QR codes have gained strong traction in the region versus the rest of the world.

The study found that of those who used QR codes for payment, 63% said they used them more frequently in the last year than they had in the past.

In APAC, majorities of respondents perceive new payment methods like QR codes to be cleaner (76%) and more convenient (71%) for in-person payments as it is likely consumers are using their own mobile device.

Meanwhile, cryptocurrency is also gaining grounds as a commodity or investment as 45% of those surveyed in APAC say they are likely to consider using cryptocurrency next year — a huge jump over the 12% that already used it last year, and higher than the global average of 40%.

While consumer interest is high, there is a lot of work to ensure customer choice, protection and regulatory compliance when it comes to cryptocurrency.

Meanwhile on biometrics, 64% of consumers in APAC said they are excited about the potential of biometric verification methods like gait or walk assessments and fingerprint authorisation, as 62% feel safer using biometrics to verify a purchase than entering a pin.

Currently, the biggest concern of the consumer is security, as the top reasons given for not trying new payment methods include security concerns (47%) and data protection concerns (42%).