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The drivers of modern wallets across APAC

By Craig Lawrance



The real action in Wallets is unfolding in the most dynamic part of the world where if you live in Thailand, you find yourself without 4 hours flying time of about 60% of the world’s population.     With the demise of most colonial links, the trade between Asian countries (APAC) now dominates trade within this region. Wealth and GDP per head in some of these countries now exceeds many so-called developed countries in the West.

A recent report from PCMI highlights that the digital wallet revolution in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region is one of the biggest and most fascinating stories in the payment’s world today. Digital wallets have helped to reduce the use of cash in China and are rapidly becoming the preferred payment method in APAC for both online shopping and in-store purchases. In part, the buzz around APAC wallets arises from the fact that they offer users seamless payment experiences — including contactless in-store payment options — and a wide range of services, operating as a one-stop-shop for all things digital. Examples include China-based WeChat and AliPay; GCash, from the Philippines; and GrabPay, based in Singapore, offering ride-hailing, food delivery, e-commerce and more.  Yet, one limitation of these wallets is that they are generally accepted only within one country and cater mainly to locals. Simply put, wallets still stumble when crossing borders — or serving those who do so.

Some wallet providers are addressing these issues by forging agreements with local payments providers, financial institutions, and merchants from different countries, enabling users to pay with their wallets when traveling abroad. Others are pioneering solutions to allow foreigners to open accounts while visiting the wallet’s home country. These efforts raise a key question: Would it be possible to create borderless digital wallets that could be used in any country?

This is perhaps the next opportunities for card payment processors and suppliers of technology like OmniPayments.  Helping these parent schemes to become more international is an area where payments can be adopted across the entire region.

A digital wallet is essentially an online service or system that enables users to store their credentials and assets digitally and make financial transactions electronically. Currently, this solution accounts for 70% of the value of all e-commerce transactions and 50% of point-of-sale transactions in APAC. By next year, 84% of Southeast Asians are projected to use digital wallets.

In terms of numbers,  AliPay claims a billion users, WeChatPay another billion users, with a lot of overlap across China and those influenced by China.

India has reached 500 million users on PhonePe, with 300 million on PAYtm.  In the lesser populated countries of SE Asia Malaysia Singapore and the Phillipines, GrabPay counts some 100 million users, with GCash in the Philippines boasting some 94 million to so.

OmniPayments already support APIs into many wallet providers as these wallets have become the new “front-end” of the payments landscape.  First came the banks, then the ATMs, now the mobile Apps.  The banks are mere utilities now, with their services all going digital-first.  But that’s another topic.

At the upcoming BITUG event in London, OmniPayments will be show-casing its broad range of payment and data integration products that allow many financial institutions to leapfrog their legacy technology and get well and truly into the 21st century.  So many payment providers are still living with old tech, held together with sticky tape.

Join us on June 13th at Trinity House to learn more about the evolution of modern payments.