Wider payment-mode choices, safer and more private transactions are influential factors linked to greater e-commerce and travel preferences: study

In April 2021, 6,000 “ nationally-representative” consumers across Indonesia (2,000), Thailand (2,000), Singapore (1,000), and Malaysia (1,000) were surveyed for a study on the shift in adoption rates for real-time payment systems.

The adoption of real-time payments has been dramatically accelerated by changing payment necessities and preferences caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost a third (30%) of consumers surveyed in Southeast Asia (SEA) had reduced usage of traditional payment methods such as cash, credit cards and debit cards since the onset of the pandemic. As a result, 53% of respondents were now using real-time payments more frequently than they were prior to the pandemic.

The research by payment systems firm suggests that real-time payments are now as popular as cash as a payment method for consumers in SEA: 61% of respondents in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore preferred real-time payments as a favored way to pay in 2021, equal with cash use (61%) and higher than other payment categories, including digital wallets requiring cash or card top-ups (56%) and credit cards (30%).

Other findings include:

  • (54% of respondents in SEA who had travelled internationally in the past expected their usage of real-time payments to increase when travel is allowed.
  • 70% of respondents said the ability to use their preferred payment methods while traveling will be more important now. As a result, 26% expected their usage of traditional payment methods such as cash to be reduce when travel is allowed.
  • 75% of respondents in the study said payment safety and fraud prevention were more important now, while 67% said transparency of interchange rates was now of greater importance.
  • While the number of SEA consumers who were making international e-commerce purchases has increased over the past year, consumers in the study were looking for further guarantees about payments to be more amenable to doing so more in the future. Some 23% of respondents were shopping more at merchants based in other SEA since the start of the pandemic, while a 22% were shopping more in stores outside of SEA.
  • The most popular factors that encourage shoppers in the study to purchase products and services more regularly from international sellers were:
    • Reassurance that payment and personal data were safely transmitted, secured and stored by international sellers (36%)
    • Ability to pay with preferred domestic payment methods (25%)
    • Having a wider range of payment options than is available at present (21%)

According to the firm’s Managing Director (Asia), Leslie Choo: “A focus on payments modernization is vital for financial institutions that want to ride the wave of the region’s biggest and most transformative payments trend—the emergence of a cross-border, real-time payments ecosystem. Unencumbered by legacy payment systems that can impede innovation in mature markets, countries in SEA can leverage robust domestic central payment infrastructures as the foundations for cross-border real-time payments, which will be a catalyst for growth and trade in the coming years.”