The Current Leader in Mobile Payments is Probably Not Who You Think

October 12, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

With all that we’ve been hearing about the staggering rush of mobile payments in China these days, it might be a shock to find that it’s not the leader in mobile payments worldwide. No, that honor goes to Canada, as found in a recent Forex Bonuses study of mobile payments in 20 of the world’s largest economies.

The Forex Bonuses study used a six-point system to calculate a score from one to 10 for each country, using factors like total number of debit and credit cards per person and total transactions made with cashless systems.

Canada managed to take the top slot by having high numbers in four of the six overall slots. While it only had 26 percent contactless functionality—China had a hefty 56 percent—in its cards, and also had the lowest number of debit cards per capita with just an average of  0.7 cards per person, it made up for that everywhere else.

Canada had an average two credit cards per person, which was the second highest figure behind the United States, where it was an average of three per person. Canada also scored high on overall payments made without cash, with an average 57 percent of its transactions going cashless. Only Sweden and France beat Canada there, and by only a narrow two percent margin.

Shockingly, China—which had the fastest growth of mobile payments in the last five years—turned to cashless methods in just 10 percent of its transactions. China also boasted the highest education rate in mobile payments, as 77 percent of those surveyed as part of the study claimed to know their options in mobile payments. In the UK, meanwhile, that number was less than half.

This study more than anything demonstrates the fluctuating nature of the mobile payments market. Where we might have thought one country ahead of the curve, it turns out it’s another country altogether that’s setting the pace. There are gains to be had just about everywhere, and this is still a market that’s got a lot of change left in it. Don’t look for any one country to hold its position very long, as new developments in each market will shift positions like they’re all built on sand.