QR code payments continue to grow, particularly across Southeast Asia. In response to this growth, a number of cross-border QR code payment initiatives are beginning to evolve across the region.
The volume of QR code payments across Southeast Asia is set to increase from 13 billion in 2023 to around 90 billion in 2028; according to market data provider Juniper Research.
Having recognised the popularity of this payment type, the Bank Indonesia (BI) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) are set to launch cross-border QR code payments between the two countries. BI and MAS revealed their current plans are to introduce the technology into their payment systems by the end of 2023.
In similar news, the National Bank of Cambodia and the Laos Central Bank have also launched the first phase of cross-border QR code payments between the two neighbouring countries. The move looks to enable Cambodian travellers to shop in Laos using their local currency Riel.
These moves signify part of a wider-reaching cross-border payment effort across the region, with Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand having already unified their payment standards to enable businesses in these countries to accept payments from international visitors using domestic digital wallets.
QR codes supporting financial inclusion
The popularity of QR code payments is partly down to their accessibility; enabling unbanked users to access digital payments. However, uptake has not reached the same heights in the Western world. Much of this may be down to the different ways in which QR codes are perceived across the world. In Asia, they are often used within ‘super-apps’ such as WeChat; and scanning the QR code initiates the payment.
In the Western world, QR codes are more commonly associated with being pasted on the corner of a billboard to signify a gateway to a webpage offering more information – or as a vehicle to drive people to their digital wallet to pay for something.
More than 70 per cent of the adult population is either ‘underbanked’ or ‘unbanked‘ across Southeast Asia, with limited access to financial services. With this in mind, it is clear to see why QR code payments serve far greater numbers of people in the region when compared to the likes of Europe and North America.
Juniper Research has revealed, however, that QR P2P bank transfers have gained traction in some parts of Europe since 2022. Belgium’s Payconiq and Spain’s Bizum saw a significant increase in users; while Revolut and Vipps MobilePay have also promoted P2P and business-based QR solutions across Europe through reduced transaction fees.