The Changing State of Global Payments

April 4, 2019         By: Gabriel de Montessus

The global payments industry is undergoing a period of rapid transformation thanks to the rise of innovative technologies and changing consumer behavior, and it’s not set to slow anytime soon. To successfully compete in today’s fast-paced and connected world, online businesses must rise to the challenge of meeting new demands being placed on them.

So, what are the key drivers of change in the industry today? In a recent report, we explored the evolving face of payments across the four corners of the globe: Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), North America (NAR), Latin America (LATAM), and Asia Pacific (APAC).

Payment preferences vary across the globe

From one region to another, payment preferences naturally differ. In Europe, for example, Scandinavia favors a cashless culture, whereas a broad mix of payment methods are used across Western Europe. In the Mediterranean, cash is king.

Preferred payment methods also vary greatly by generation. In North America, younger consumers are driving the growth of mobile payments, one in three millennials and more affluent consumers regularly using mobile devices to make payments in-store and online. In contrast, older and less affluent consumers prefer more traditional payment methods. Overall, consumers in North America still favor debit and credit cards, but the payments industry across the region is becoming increasingly dynamic.

We are also seeing this trend in Asia, and more specifically China, where the likes of Alibaba have made smartphone purchases via an app or web browser the norm. Shoppers here are rapidly adopting alternative payment methods due to ease of use, with less concern about storing sensitive data.

Elsewhere in the Asia Pacific region, a cashless future is firmly on the cards. In India, the government has been driving a range of cash reduction initiatives forward, such as the demonetisation of high currency denominations, while in South Korea, plans are in place to achieve a cashless society by 2020.

In Latin America, the eCommerce and mCommerce markets are gaining momentum, but this is fragmented across the region. In terms of eCommerce, recent figures show that six key markets account for 95 percent of Latin America’s turnover: Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. Almost half of all eCommerce transactions came from the largest of these – Brazil. 

Social and conversational commerce is creating new opportunities

Social commerce is gaining significant traction in North America. Thanks to modern ways of selling and advertising via social media, the way consumers browse and shop for products is changing across the region. Currently nearly half of social media users in the region make purchases directly from social media posts.

In Asia, consumers are happy to use messenger apps to make payments and the region remains one of the driving forces in the market, with 80 percent of merchants now selling on social media platforms. While Facebook is popular, WeChat is the champion of the Chinese market, with 90 percent of merchants using it to sell products.

Europe is trailing a bit on this front without a strong foothold for Facebook’s marketplace, however we do anticipate growing consumer interest in social transactions across the region and the same goes for Latin America.

When it comes to conversational commerce, consumers in North America are not yet convinced about using chatbots to make payments. European and Latin American consumers on the other hand are beginning to show interest, while in Asia, and China in particular, consumers are the most willing to use conversational commerce for shopping.

Thinking local, not global, is the key to eCommerce success

Offering a range of tailored payment options to cater to the specific needs of local customers is essential to success in every region. This is particularly true when it comes to online merchants and marketplaces.

In the Asia Pacific region, Amazon is struggling to penetrate the Southeast Asian market where Singapore-based Lazada is favored. Customer loyalty and familiarity plays a crucial role in the growth of online marketplaces across Asia, while integration with a localized payments structure is a must. 

We are seeing a similar situation in Latin America. For example, Argentina’s MercadoLibre is successfully competing with Amazon. OLX, TiendaMia and Linio are also performing well, thanks in part to their locally relevant payment options. Bank transfers, local credit cards and voucher systems are preferred in the region, while instalment payments accounted for half of all online transactions during Argentina’s Hot Sale last year. 

Amazon is however leading the charge across Europe, where eCommerce is growing rapidly, though other marketplaces continue to emerge. Unsurprisingly, given their respective internet penetration rates, Western Europe has the greatest eCommerce market share (53 percent), while Eastern Europe has the smallest (6 percent). The East should not however be overlooked, and could be primed for future growth.

In North America, consumer behavior is evolving in response to the rise of Amazon and other marketplaces like Newegg, eBay and Etsy. In fact, two in five of US consumers now shop in-store less often, exceeding the global average by 10 percent, due to eCommerce sites providing a greater range of products, competitive prices, and shipping options.

Financial inclusion is driving payments revenue growth

An important driver in the growth of payments revenue across all regions is financial inclusion. In Latin America, governments are pushing for the growth of mobile and eBanking to give consumers, particularly those in rural areas, access to credit and the means to make eCommerce purchases. In Asia, financial inclusion is expanding across developing nations such as the Philippines and Indonesia through mobile money services, e-wallets and stored value facilities.

Asia’s rural population however, remains largely underserved by online merchants, particularly when it comes to mobile transactions. That being said, consumers in these areas are beginning to adopt smartphones to make digital payments, representing a potentially huge opportunity for merchants.

Final thoughts

Across all four regions, it is crucial for merchants to recognize that one size does not fit all, and cater to the local consumer behaviors of every region they operate in. Today, success is not dependent on telling consumers which options they can choose, but on a data-driven assessment of the technologies that serve and complement their busy lifestyles.

You can read Ingenico’s full report, The Four Corners of Global Payments, here.

Gabriel de Montessus

SVP, Global Online (Retail Business Unit) of Ingenico Group

Gabriel de Montessus was appointed SVP, Global Online (Retail Business Unit) of Ingenico Group in January 2018. Gabriel has a broad experience in technology and digital industries.

Gabriel’s digital career started in 2000 with the launch of, a digital insights company, with around 30 million consumers participating in fully automated and real time online panels.

In 2004, he headed to the USA as investment manager, to oversee the North American tech fund of VPSA in Palo Alto. This led him to Citigroup with a specific focus on mergers and acquisitions in the TMT sector. Gabriel joined Hi-Media Group in 2007 and became COO in 2011. In 2013, he was nominated CEO of HiPay, turning it into a global provider of innovative full-service payments.

Gabriel is a graduate from Université Paris Dauphine and EM Lyon.