Thais post strong mobile pay growth
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Thais post strong mobile pay growth

Mobile payments are used for various transactions. (Photo by Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Mobile payments are used for various transactions. (Photo by Varuth Hirunyatheb)

Thailand has the second-fastest growth for mobile payments in Southeast Asia behind Vietnam, which is the global leader, according to the Global Consumer Insights Survey 2019.

The report by PwC, which surveyed more than 21,000 respondents from 27 territories and countries, showed Southeast Asia leading the customer shift to mobile payments.

Vietnam's mobile payments increased to 61% of digital payments in 2019 from 37% in 2018, with the highest number of total mobile payment users. Thailand's mobile payments grew from 19% to 67%, followed by third-ranked Malaysia (17% to 40%) and the Philippines (14% to 45%).

Vilaiporn Taweelappontong, consulting lead partner at PwC Thailand, said it's no surprise that Thailand is one of the leading countries in terms of fast-growing mobile payments in Southeast Asia.

The reasons for the high growth include Thais' increasing use of e-commerce to shop, as well as the country's status as one of the top social media markets in the world. This has prompted both large and small retailers to tap online shopping, competing via promotions and discounts.

Thai banks have scrapped digital transaction fees, helping to stimulate growth in online payments.

But online payment security is still a major concern, as this is key to building trust and brand loyalty among customers, Ms Vilaiporn said. Retailers should also study new online shopping platforms via technologies such as voice assistant or AI to create a better online shopping experience for customers.

Shirish Jain, payments director for PwC Strategy, said Asia remains the powerhouse leading the customer shift to mobile payment, with eight Asian nations in the top 10 -- six of them in Southeast Asia.

Vietnam, with its relatively low penetration in 2018, has registered the highest growth as mobile platforms demonstrate a significant increase in convenience over traditional means of commerce.

"This contrasts with Singapore that also shows strong gains," Mr Jain said. "However, the sophisticated and established traditional ecosystem, as well as an abundant and potentially confusing number of choices in mobile payments, can also slow down adoption."

According to the survey, consumers in Asia are more socially engaged online than those in Europe and the Americas.

Respondents in Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam lead the pack globally in making purchases directly through social media posts on platforms like Instagram and Facebook, with 50%, 49% and 48% of survey respondents indicating they do so.

Globally, just 21% of respondents make purchases directly through social media. Among product and service categories, the survey found that social media is most likely to affect purchasing decisions related to fashion.

Charles Loh, consumer and industrial products consulting leader for Southeast Asia at PwC Singapore, said the social media landscape is mature in the region.

The trend in online shopping is the consolidation of e-commerce players, with Lazada providing that gateway, he said.

In Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, consumers use Lazada, while in Indonesia people turn to Tokopedia.

There seems to be a consolidator in every market, Mr Loh said.

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