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What Does 2023 Have in Store for the APAC Payments Ecosystem?

Payment innovation in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) has enjoyed a year of significant highs. As the region welcomes the beginning of 2023, we look to the horizon for the trends emerging this year.

As one of the fastest-paced regions for innovation, transactions have continuously evolved in APAC, and here deriving figures originally correlated by Singapore news sources, we unpack what the future of the region’s payments might look like.

  • Asia’s BNPL boom

The ability to buy now pay later (BNPL) found its defining year in 2022, and not just in APAC. This is confirmed by GlobalData’s prediction last year that the BNPL market will top $1trillion worldwide by 2030.

The service splits payments into interest-free monthly instalments, making the value of the purchase more accessible from the point of sale.

Despite ongoing queries into the service’s relationship with debt and credit scores, BNPL appears to be riding a wave of popularity in APAC. In November, credit reference agency Experian was found to be conducting consumer credit checks for Singapore’s BNPL Working Group as uptake of the service continues to increase. Likewise, although it has historically been popular to complete ‘big ticket’ items, the data of UnaCash appears to confirm that BNPL users in the Philippines opt to use the service when buying items of lower value.

As the prevalence of both BNPL providers and active online retailers continues to climb, this form of paytech might enjoy its most commanding year yet in 2023.

This agenda is supported by figures that see the region’s BNPL industry growing by 45.3 per cent on an annual basis. At the turn of the new year, the industry alone held a current value of $201.9billion.

It suggests that the evolution of new categories within the offering will drive both industry growth and industry competition.

Industry partnerships

A key example of this includes Atome‘s July partnership with PayMongo. The partnership saw Atome’s BNPL payment services made accessible to its partner’s merchant network in the Philippines. This news followed an announcement that Standard Chartered was to make its biggest regional investment in fintech to date, with the Atome BNPL platform right at the very centre.

  • Cross-border payment bridges 

The publisher recognises the rise of cross-border payment bridges as another key trend to watch in 2023. It cites the overcoming of challenges surrounding foreign currency swaps as catalysts of this trend.

Payment bridges in a cross-border sense work as platforms that link a user’s native bank account with an account in a foreign country. In this way, receiving and managing payments in different currencies becomes far more convenient.

One of the major recognised benefits of this service is the increased affordability of shopping abroad. Because of this, APAC’s international payment community is becoming more connected than ever before. And this isn’t just to facilitate payments, as it appears partnerships between banks, networks and financial hubs are preparing for a future of better cross-border trade. This is evident from ThunesNovember partnership with Tencent Financial Technology, which introduced the network to Weixin‘s 1.3 billion users in China.

APAC’s most innovative financial players are quickly seizing the benefits of payment bridges. Their capabilities to support real-time money transfers with lower transaction rates will surely come to disrupt the space throughout 2023.

  • Contactless to continue expansion

The Covid-19 pandemic generated significant increases in the use of contactless payments as users sought to avoid the use of cash.

By cashless transaction volume, APAC records the world’s fastest-growing statistics, being projected to grow by 109 per cent until 2025 and then by 76 per cent from 2025 to 2030.

This trend will continue in the months and years ahead, as businesses continue to adopt contactless payment methods, mobile commerce and digital wallets. This adoption will largely incur the use of near-field communication (NFC) technology, especially within soft point-of-sale (PoS) systems.

A Soft PoSitive future for APAC?

Soft PoS systems have found particular success in operations based solely on the use of a smartphone. As a testament to the ease of use, in March of last year, the Welsh paytech MYPINPAD enabled micro and small business merchants in Fiji, New Zealand and the wider Pacific Islands with this technology through its partnership with the Kiwi payment service provider Solta Labs.

A corresponding report was published around the same time by the Indian payments and API banking solutions company Cashfree Payments, which cites soft POS as essential to delivering digital payments among India’s increasingly mobile-friendly citizens; especially in semi-urban and rural areas.

APAC Payments
Akash Sinha, CEO and co-founder, Cashfree Payments

“We believe that soft PoS can be one of the major solutions that will help drive digital payments in India and enhance customer experience,” explains Cashfree Payments CEO and co-founder, Akash Sinha.

“Cashfree Payments are already working towards offering smart and simple soft PoS solutions for a sustainable digital payments ecosystem and intend to provide merchants with an easy, safe and instant payments infrastructure.”

Contactless mobile transactions are catching on as one of the dominant payment trends worldwide, with an estimated 782 million users in 2022. But this is expected to grow by nearly 60 per cent in the next two years to reach 1 billion global users by 2024,

There are many benefits of contactless payments, such as convenience, security, and speed. However, drawbacks include the potential for fraud and the lack of customer service.

  • Mobile will be king among payment trends in 2023

Above all, the publisher recognises the pivotal role of mobile devices in APAC’s ongoing pursuit of contactless payments. While areas of the region, like Japan, for example, have held a historic almost-dependency on cash, the data predicts a new wave of technology to succeed it.

But the data suggests that contactless isn’t the only destination for APAC’s digital revolution. It documents ‘a noticeable shift towards electronic and mobile payments.’ This is a nod to the increasing use of digital wallets; especially in conjunction with the aforementioned contactless method.

It describes mobile payments as becoming ‘ubiquitous,’ with more and more people using their smart devices to make purchases.

Juniper Research projects that by 2024, smartphone penetration in APAC will exceed 99 per cent, and even now, nearly six out of 10 shoppers say the ability to make purchases via their mobile devices will be key to which retailers or platforms they will buy from.

Author

  • Tyler is a fintech journalist with specific interests in online banking and emerging AI technologies. He began his career writing with a plethora of national and international publications.

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