Philippines leads AsPac in shift to e-wallet

Lawrence Agcaoili - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has logged the highest percent of new electronic-cash adopters in Asia Pacific amid the pandemic, according to a study commissioned by Kaspersky.

The study said the Philippines led the region in e-wallet adopters, with 37 percent of respondents saying they started using digital methods during the pandemic.

The Philippines was followed by India (23 percent), Australia (15 percent), Vietnam (14 percent), Indonesia (13 percent) and Thailand (13 percent).

On the other hand, China has the lowest number of first-time online payment users, with only five percent of responders saying they have used the scheme, followed by both South Korea and Malaysia at nine percent.

Kaspersky Asia Pacific managing director Chris Connell said that data showed that cash is still king, at least for now, in the region with 70 percent of respondents saying that they still use physical money for their day-to-day transactions.

Connell said not far behind are mobile payments with 58 percent and mobile banking applications with 52 percent of the respondents using these platforms at least once a week up to more than once a day for their finance-related tasks.

“From these solid statistics, we can infer that the pandemic has triggered more people to dip their toes into the digital economy, which may fully dethrone cash use here in the next three to five years,” Connell said.

China has been a notable leader in mobile payments in APAC. Even before the pandemic, China’s top local platforms, Alipay and WeChat Pay, have witnessed significant mass adoption and served as an example to follow for other Asian countries.

One of its key findings showed that a great majority, or 90 percent, of Asian respondents have used mobile payment apps at least once in the past 12 months, confirming the financial technology boom in the region.

The study showed nearly two in 10 of the respondents only started using the digital platforms after the pandemic.

Kaspersky said safety and convenience triggered more users in APAC to embrace financial technologies.

More than half of the survey respondents noted that they started using digital payment methods during the pandemic as it is safer and more convenient than making a face-to-face transaction.

At least 45 percent of respondents also cited that these platforms allowed them to make payments while adhering to social distancing.

For 29 percent of users, digital gateways are more secure now compared to pre-COVID-19 era and the same percentage also appreciate the incentives and rewards providers offer.

When asked about their reservations prior to using mobile banking and payment apps, first-time users admitted their fears – afraid of losing money online at 48 percent and afraid of storing their financial data online at 41 percent.

“Almost four in 10 also revealed they do not trust the security of these platforms,” the study said.

More than a quarter or 26 percent also finds the technology too troublesome and requires many passwords or questions, while 25 percent confessed their personal devices are not secure enough.

To drive a secured digital economy forward, Connell said it is important to know the pain points of users and identify the loopholes that need to address urgently.

“It is a welcome finding that the public is aware of the risks that comes with online transactions and because of this, developers and providers of mobile payment applications should now look into the cybersecurity gaps in each stage of the payment process and implement security features, or even a secure-by-design approach to fully gain the trust of the future and existing digital payment adopters,” Connell said.

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