Written by Powa on .

mobile payments growth in Asia

According to a recent study commissioned by Gartner and IDC, consumers spend more and more digital time on their mobile devices (60% vs 40% on desktops). In China, there is a clear correlation between the usage of smartphones and online shopping, as shown in the chart above.

This inevitable, silent revolution is not limited to the Western world and Asia Pacific. The amazing growth of peer-to-peer payments in Africa is also quickly creating a massive user base, which will be ready to pay with their smartphones when local merchants switch mobile payments on.

The largest companies in the digital space, such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple, all know this. PayPal just spun off from eBay because of this. Mobile payment is a key part of any consumer journey – not in a century, not next near, not next week. It is already here.

A few months ago I was working in New York, seeing very few people using mobile payments in restaurants or in convenience stores. But things are quickly changing.

My last trip to a leading organic food retailer was quite enlightening, with both store associates and shoppers aware and willing to transact with smartphones. I bet the UK market will be even quicker to adopt mobile payments, as many merchants are already NFC-enabled. Even in France, Germany or Italy, where consumers are supposed to be more resistant to change, all major retailers are working on how mobile can support the revenue growth of physical stores. Payment is a major element of this strategy.

Of course, there will be huge differences between countries, generations, or product categories. You can already use your phone to buy various items with a low price and high purchase frequency (think Starbucks coffee, McDonald’s Burgers, your daily grocery bag, metro passes, even gas refills). This makes sense, as an everyday purchase under 10 $/£/€ is a perfect first test of the user convenience brought by mobile payment.

Tomorrow, everything will be shoppable in a few clicks, on any smartphone. I do not know if and when plastic cards will be eventually replaced by their mobile equivalents. I suppose this will take years. But eventually we’ll get there.

As always, when it comes to new payment methods, the growth of the number of merchants welcoming mobile payments will be a key driver.

Therefore, the good question to ask yourself is: how my business should deploy mobile payment?

I’ll try to answer this one shortly.


Georges has been with Powa since 2013, and headed up teams in France and the US before stepping into the role of Chief Revenue Officer Global Accounts towards the end of last year. He’s also an active writer, and publishes frequently in the fields of m-commerce and mobile payments.