India, China and South Korea led the real-time transactions per day during the first half of the year.

Amid the surge in global e-commerce this year, adoption and usage of real-time payment systems during April and May was strongest in the Asia Pacific region (APAC).

In terms of overlay services, Request to Pay (R2P), cross-border payments, and corporate treasury business-to-business payments were driving adoption in real-time payments globally. R2P systems offer a convenient and flexible way for people, businesses and governments to request a payment from a third party.

For overlay services across the Asia-Pacific, the following factors have been studied:

  • Many Asian countries have created standardized QR codes for domestic markets, including Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand
  • Australia’s real-time payments networks NPP were preparing to launch their Mandated Payments Service (MPS) so customers can authorize third parties to directly debit funds from their accounts
  • India continued to innovate with the launch of extensive business services on real-time rails, including IPO subscription, mandate management and invoice-in-the-box
  • Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand were working on a real-time payments system that can achieve interoperability between central payment infrastructures and facilitate immediate multi-currency settlements between real-time payment systems in the second half of 2020
  • Malaysia was planning to roll out its R2P functionality on a pilot basis as part of its DuitNow 2.0 Payment Solutions in the second half of 2020. This can offer a secure, convenient and fast way for consumers to pay in both e-commerce and mobile commerce channels

Said Raja Gopalakrishnan, head of Global Real-time Payments, FIS, the firm that conducted the study of global payment trends titled Flavors of Fast 2020, now in its 7th edition: “The current pandemic has highlighted the critical importance of instantly getting funds in the hands of those who need it, whether individuals or businesses. This year’s report shows that as real-time payments networks mature, they are bringing value beyond speed.”

The report includes meta-analyses of real-time payments data research conducted in April/May 2020, and defines real-time or ‘faster payments’ as funds transferred from one bank account to another with payment confirmation in one minute or less. Other key findings include:

  • Real-time payments networks have been added in Vietnam and Hungary in the past year, bringing the total number of countries globally with such schemes to 56:
    • In APAC, Vietnam has joined the ranks of Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Thailand, with similar networks under development in Indonesia and New Zealand
  • Six countries saw a twofold or greater increase in volume of real-time payment transactions processed over the past year, with APAC accounting for three:
    • Bahrain (657%), Ghana (488%), Philippines (309%), Australia (214%), India (213%) and Poland (208%)
  • In the same timeframe, two countries from APAC were among the four countries that have seen a twofold or greater increase in monetary value of real-time payment transactions:
    • Philippines (482%), Bahrain (311%), Australia (231%) and Ghana (222%)
    • India continued to see very strong growth in monetary value of real-time payment transactions, with a 181% increase
  • India remained the global leader, processing 41 million real-time transactions per day, more than any other country. China and South Korea, processing more than 38 million and 12 million real-time transactions per day respectively, rounded up the top three in APAC
    • For regional financial hubs:
      • Hong Kong was processing 163,149 and 711 real-time transactions per day in HKD and RMB, respectively. Faster Payment System (FPS), its dual-currency real-time payments networks, saw strong growth in its first full year of operation, demonstrated by a near doubling of daily volume and a 40% increase in monetary value of real-time payment transactions in HKD
      • Driven mostly by emerging, innovative open API-enabled services, Singapore was processing 220,994 transactions per day, with its FAST real-time payment networks continuing to see strong growth with another 50% increase in volume and monetary value
  • South Korea reported the highest number of real-time transactions per capita, with 75 transactions per citizen per year, processed through the country’s HOFINET scheme. Singapore and Thailand had 38 and 14 transactions per citizen per year through their FAST and PromptPay schemes, respectively.