Financial Cards and Payments in Asia Pacific

November 2021

Coronavirus (COVID-19) had a negative impact on consumer payment transactions in 2020, although a rebound is immediately expected to be seen in 2021. There is an ongoing trend away from using cash, with consumers increasingly moving towards contactless and electronic payments, particularly in China. M-commerce continues to see dynamic growth, albeit from still relatively low levels in many countries.

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Key findings

COVID-19 hits 2020 consumer payment transactions

Consumer payment transactions in Asia Pacific were hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, with spending occasions limited due to lockdowns, retail closures and travel restrictions. Consumers and retailers were looking to avoid handling cash for hygiene reasons, encouraging greater use of card payments, particularly in the contactless mode. M-commerce continued to thrive in this environment.

Swift rebound in 2021

After the problems experienced due to the pandemic in 2020, a much better year is expected in 2021, even though the virus has still been present. While card transactions and electronic direct/ACH transactions will enjoy dynamic growth in 2021, cash – still an important payment method – will continue to decline. This is being supported by growing merchant acceptance of card and contactless payments as well as government policies driving the trend towards cashless societies. Thanks to the ever more ubiquitous smartphone, m-commerce also enables financial inclusion of the unbanked population in the region.

China trialling digital currencies

In 2021, consumer payments in China continues to see the acceleration of digital transformation, from both industry players and the government, which is actively speeding up the establishment of a digital payments system. The People’s Bank of China was even cooperating with local governments to launch a series of digital currency trials across major cities in this year, including Beijing and Shanghai.

Strong m-commerce growth expected

In spite of the economic impact of COVID-19, a return to strong annual growth rates is expected for consumer payments from 2021, with m-commerce continuing to record particularly dynamic growth over the forecast period.


Key findings

Regional Overview

Dynamic Asia Pacific continues to lead consumer payment transactions
Strong performances by card payment transactions
Immediate recovery in 2021 after the decline seen in 2020
Card transactions outperforming overall consumer spending
Dynamic growth for electronic direct/ACH transactions in China
Outside China, cash is still a major payment mode in the region
Strong electronic direct/ACH transactions growth in Indonesia
Debit and credit the dominant financial card types in China
Credit cards struggle during the pandemic
Debit and credit cards account for all the new value in 2016-2021
M-commerce proves an ideal payment method during a pandemic
Strong growth expected in Vietnam, Philippines, India and Indonesia

Leading Companies and Brands

High levels of concentration among network operators
UnionPay the dominant force thanks to its strong position in China
South Korea a key market for a number of leading players
Digital and Tier-2 banks gaining share in South Korea

Forecast Projections

Strong rebound expected in consumer payments from 2021
Cash will continue losing share over the forecast period
Credit and debit cards to drive forecast period growth
Pandemic boosts contactless payments
Further strong growth expected for m-commerce over 2021-2026
Increasing smartphone penetration driving m-commerce growth

Country Snapshots

China: Market Context
China: Competitive and Retail Landscape
China: M-commerce and Consumer Payment Value
Hong Kong, China: Market Context
Hong Kong, China: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Hong Kong, China: M-commerce and Consumer Payment Value
India: Market Context
India: Competitive and Retail Landscape
India: M-commerce and Consumer Payment Value
Indonesia: Market Context
Indonesia: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Indonesia: M-commerce and Consumer Payment Value
Japan: Market Context
Japan: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Japan: M-commerce and Consumer Payment Value
Malaysia: Market Context
Malaysia: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Malaysia: M-commerce and Consumer Payment Value
Philippines: Market Context
Philippines: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Philippines: M-commerce and Consumer Payment Value
Singapore: Market Context
Singapore: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Singapore: M-commerce and Consumer Payment Value
South Korea: Market Context
South Korea: Competitive and Retail Landscape
South Korea: M-commerce and Consumer Payment Value
Taiwan: Market Context
Taiwan: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Taiwan: M-commerce and Consumer Payment Value
Thailand: Market Context
Thailand: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Thailand: M-commerce and Consumer Payment Value
Vietnam: Market Context
Vietnam: Competitive and Retail Landscape
Vietnam: M-commerce and Consumer Payment Value


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