According to this study, China’s super-apps, regional fintech initiatives, BNPL, cross-border remittance needs and ease-of-access contribute to the trend.

In a study of more than 12,000 consumers across the Asia Pacific region (APAC) including China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong, China set the global bar in the use of ‘super app’ and ‘embedded finance’.

Discerning a boom in e-commerce since the ongoing global pandemic, the study reported that 88% of APAC respondents expect to sustain or increase higher spend levels, generating approximately US$2.45tn in online retail sales.

The findings form part of’s report on how payments and e-commerce innovation are rapidly spreading across the region, revolutionizing how consumers shop and setting the standard for other geographies to follow.

Other findings for the region

While it is common for payment rails, infrastructure, standards and regulations to vary per country, APAC features significant regional and demographic differences. This highlights the need for merchants to focus sharply on localization of digital payments. In particular:

  • 69% of Singapore respondents preferred card payments, the highest regional showing. For the preference to use digital wallets, the country trailed at 22%, compared to 31% in Indonesia and 39% in Thailand.  
  • 95% of APAC respondents shopped online, with 80% of them using some form of fintech app to manage their finances.
  • 54% of APAC respondents said that they were currently spending significantly more money online as a result of the pandemic, with 88% expecting to sustain or increase this higher spend level after the pandemic ends.
  • Around 48% of respondents were making purchases significantly more frequently and 40% expected a further uptick in their online spend during 2021 and beyond the pandemic recovery.
  • 53% of respondents indicated that they regularly used an app to send or receive remittances. 33% said that a complicated payment process has permanently deterred them from returning to a site or app.
  • Research by Accenture shows that over 40% of e-commerce in APAC is cross-border, and this level was mirrored in the study by Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand respondents.
  • Around 14% of Hong Kong respondents said they never shopped online, compared with the APAC average of 5%. Only 3% in Singapore respondents indicated they never shopped online.
  • For those that do shop online in Hong Kong, 88% said an important advantage of online was the fact that they can more easily identify discounts and savings, while only 50% ‘agreed’ to prompts that it saves them time.
  • For cross-border commerce, 76% of Japanese consumers surveyed said they would not buy from a website that was not fully in Japanese throughout the shopping and paying experience.
  • 73% of Singapore consumers indicated that they believed that paying online via an app or website is a safe thing to do.
  • 90% of Hong Kong consumers had abandoned carts due to security concerns and 18% said they did so regularly.
  • With the exception of Japan and Australia, in all countries surveyed, women were found to be the primary holders of the digital purse-strings, being much more likely to shop online weekly or daily than their male counterparts. Overall, more women than men in the survey listed digital wallets as their most frequently used payment method.
  • In APAC, Indonesia and Thailand led the way when it comes to fintech penetration and the use of digital wallets, but they also stood out for the level of digital financial activity performed by women. For example, in Indonesia, where the use of remittances apps is broadly high, 67% of unmarried male respondents used fintech for money transfer, compared with 78% of unmarried women there. 80% of the married population there across both genders used a remittances app.
  • For buy-now pay-later (BNPL) transactions, respondents under the age of 30 in APAC were choosing to shop and pay online. BNPL Optionality was the number one reason to shop online or in-app in 11% of Singapore respondents, but in Indonesia there were 29% of 18–30-year-olds citing BNPL as a top factor. In Thailand the figure was 26%. Other studies by Google and Bain show that roughly 30% of BNPL transactions in 2020 were coming from new users.

Said the firm’s Singapore Country Manager, Vladimira Artopé: “Despite the global shutdown resulting from the worldwide pandemic, our findings clearly illustrate the rapid acceleration of e-commerce and online payments in APAC.”