Asian consumers are leading the global mobile commerce revolution.
Want proof? Then we'll start with a few numbers.. ;)
- 46% of consumers in Asia Pacific use their mobile for buying goods and services, more than in any other region (including 27% in Europe and 17% in North America).
- 42% of Asia Pacific consumers who use mobile to buy goods and services want to do it more, higher than in any other region (including 24% in Europe and 15% in North America).
(The Mobile Consumer, SAP, September 2013)
1. Three forces align
Major forces have been driving the Asian embrace of mobile payment.
It’s no accident that Asia is leading the world when it comes to the adoption of mobile payments. Three BIG forces are driving this change:
- More smartphones: China, already the world’s largest smartphone market, is set to add a further 400 million smartphones in 2014. And the fastest growing smartphone market right now? India, with 167% growth in Q4 2013 (Gartner, January & February 2014).
- Unbanked consumers: In many Asian countries, mobile penetration exceeds access to traditional banking services. There are around three times more mobile phones than there are bank cards in China (MasterCard, September 2013).
- Device culture: An absence of the legacy technologies prevalent in northern America and Europe (yes, we mean PCs), have driven millions of Asian consumers to adopt the smartphone as a primary portal to the online space, and – increasingly – a wholesale lifestyle assistant, too.
2. But really, this is all about people.
Consumer desire – for payment methods that are faster, more convenient, more secure and that offer better value – is the most potent force of all.
Deep structural forces may be driving the ascent of mobile payment in Asia.
But at heart, trends are about people – and their deep-seated, fundamentally unchanging needs, wants and desires.
The forces driving mobile payment in Asia are unlocking new ways to serve those needs and wants, and that means payment methods that are:
- More convenient
- More secure
- Allow access to new kinds of personalized, actionable information
- Allow access to new services, or novel combinations of services
In short, consumers want – and can increasingly experience – a world filled with PERFECT PAYMENTS.
The bigger picture here?
Yet another sign of how the online space and mobile technologies are reshaping ALL consumer expectations.
At heart this trend isn’t just about payments. Yes, consumers will increasingly expect to use their (smart)phones to pay for anything, wherever they are: not just ‘online’, but for ‘real-world’ commercial transactions, too*.
But we hardly need to remind you of the bigger underlying trend here.
No matter what industry you’re in, no matter who your customers are (or could be), you should be thinking about how expectations cultivated online – of speed, seamlessness, ultra-convenience and more – are transferring into the offline world, and how mobile will reshape every interaction and experience.* In fact, if you haven’t already, it’s time to throw out terms like e-commerce, m-commerce, t-commerce…it’s just all commerce now ;)
Check out these brands and businesses already serving consumer desire for PERFECT PAYMENTS.
Messaging app-enabled vending machines on Beijing subway
To promote its new mobile payment feature, Chinese mobile messaging app WeChat installed 300 branded vending machines in selected Beijing subway stations during September 2013. Commuters who chose to pay for beverages from the vending machines via the app (which can be linked to an online banking account), could scan a QR code to receive a CNY 1 (USD 0.16) discount.
Weibo Payment with Alipay
Chinese social network app integrates payment functionality
December 2013 saw Chinese social networking platform Sina Weibo partner with Alipay to launch Weibo Payment: an online payment service available as part of Weibo’s free mobile app. Users connect their Alipay and Weibo accounts and can then shop and purchase items directly from the Weibo app.
Abu Dhabi taxis to accept smartphone payment
In February 2014, Abu Dhabi’s Centre for Regulation of Transport by Hire Cars (TransAD) announced plans to roll out a smartphone payment system across its fleet of taxis. A new app will enable passengers to pay for all taxi journeys via smartphone; currently passengers must pay by cash or debit/credit card. The service will come first to airport taxis, and and then be rolled out across the fleet by mid-2015.
Lanka Indian Oil Company
NFC-enabled smart stickers make fuel payments seamless
In September 2013, one year after launching NFC-enabled fuel cards, the Lanka Indian Oil Company and Laugfs garages across Sri Lanka launched NFC-enabled stickers. Motorists can pay for fuel by placing one of the NFC-enabled stickers on any item they wish (such as a wallet or key fob), and then tapping this on the checkout. Customers are immediately notified of their payment via SMS, and can login to the associated mobile app to view details of their transaction.
Thai Metropolitan Electricity Authority: Smart Life
App to monitor and pay for home electricity use
In Thailand during September 2013, the Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA) launched Smart Life: a free smartphone app allowing consumers to monitor their home electricity usage. Users can remotely check their electricity meter readings, search for places to make bill payments, and generate a QR code or barcode that can be used for bill payment at selected convenience stores. Users can also notify the MEA of power outages via the GPS-enabled app.
SingTel mWallet & Visa payWave
Payment by NFC-enabled smartphones across Singapore & Australia
In August 2013 Singaporean telecommunications firm SingTel announced plans to link their mobile wallet service, mWallet, to pre-paid Visa cards, allowing NFC-enabled contactless mobile payment at 12,000 Visa payWave points across Singapore, and over 100,000 across Australia. The mWallet can also be topped up with cash.
CIMB Niaga: Rekening Ponsel
Indonesian bank service turns mobile number into bank account
In October 2013 Indonesian bank CIMB Niaga launched its Rekening Ponsel (‘Mobile Phone Account’) service. Via the service, bank customers can use their mobile number to pay at major merchants across Indonesia: users give their phone number to the merchant and enter a confirmation PIN on their phone. Customers can also use their phone number at any CIMB Niaga ATM to withdraw cash, and use Rekening Ponsel to pay utility bills and transfer money to peers who do not have bank accounts.
Telecom of Thailand: Just Pay
State-owned telecoms company launches mobile wallet
December 2013 saw state-owned Telecom of Thailand announce plans to launch an NFC-enabled mobile wallet service, Just Pay, in 2014. The service will allow users to pay by tapping their mobile against NFC-enabled tablets at participating retailers, and also let users store their payment card details to pay utility bills.
WeChat & Didi Dache
22 million taxis rides in China booked and paid for in one month
In January 2014 Chinese messaging app WeChat integrated the Didi Dache taxi booking and payment app, making it possible for Chinese users to hail and pay for taxis within WeChat. By early February 2014, over 22 million taxi rides had been booked and paid for, including 2.62 million on a single day – 7 February, when many citizens were returning home after family visits for Chinese New Year.
World's first fingerprint-enabled mobile wallet from South Korean manufacturer
In October 2013 South Korean mobile phone manufacturer Pantech launched the first smartphone equipped with a fingerprint-enabled payment function. The Pantech VEGA LTE-A comes preloaded with a mobile app called BarTong, created by South Korean mobile payment services provider Danal. The app generates a barcode that can be scanned by retailers to accept payment; users of the app then authenticate the payment by scanning their fingerprint.
What are the implications of Asia's fast-evolving PERFECT PAYMENTS ecosystem?
70% of consumers in Asia Pacific think mobile will become more important as a payment method in the future.
(The Mobile Consumer, SAP, September 2013)