There’s a Lot Going on In the Worldwide Mobile Payments Market

April 1, 2020         By: Steven Anderson

Over the course of the next five years, over 500 billion real-time payments transactions will be processed. Start breaking that down into smaller numbers, and you get down somewhere in the billion-plus transactions a day range. That’s a lot of business flowing through the world’s real-time payments system, mobile payments included, and it means a lot of opportunities and even a few threats. The folks at ACI Worldwide recently sent us a copy of their massive new study showing off just what’s going on in the real-time payments space coming up, and there is indeed a lot going on.

The first point is that a large swath of the world either has or will have fairly soon a kind of instant payments scheme in place. Africa, the Middle East, large portions of Asia and about half of South America are the laggards on this front, while the rest of the world—especially the more industrialized “first world” nations—are either ready to go or will be before too much longer has passed.

Naturally, within this dichotomy, you’ll find various levels of “establishment” in play. For instance, the Australian market is considered to be “developing” when it comes to instant payments operations, but it’s rapidly growing. The Chinese market, meanwhile, is considered “established” thanks to the sheer depth of the market. Much of the country is using some kind of mobile payments scheme on a daily basis, which makes it a fully-realized market. Interestingly, Japan is considered a developing market as well, not because of any lack of technological capability, but rather because of cultural factors.

“Cultural factors” seem to be one of the biggest constraints to the mobile payments market as a whole. While for a long time, “security” has been one of the biggest issues, concerns about security seem to be buried under an avalanche of anecdotal evidence. When thousands of people can use mobile payments systems daily, without losing their life’s savings in the process, the notion that this is a safe way to operate becomes pretty clear.

That’s when convenience kicks in, and makes mobile payments much more attractive. Regardless of the causes or the rate of adoption, it’s ultimately clear that mobile payments, and real-time payments of all stripes, are catching on worldwide in a big way. Their ultimate path is as yet unclear, but look for a lot more ground to be gained in the months and years to come.