How Asia is Leading the Way in Mobile Payments

Asia, not Europe or the U.S., will pave the way for innovation in mobile payments, 25 anonymous industry leaders said in a recent report from the Payments Innovation Jury.

Ownership of mobile devices in the Asian-Pacific region has exploded, especially in emerging markets which skipped the PC stage and went directly to mobile, and it’s one of the biggest drivers for early adoption to mobile payments says Richard Besenbruch, Marketing & Business Development Director of ID Solutions at Datacard Asia-Pacific and Japan, in an article on

Asia has more transactions via mobile device than other regions of the world, with an eight percent compound annual growth rate led by China, India and Indonesia.

A recent survey by MasterCard found that more than half of consumers in Indonesia, China and Thailand said they’ve used their smartphones in the past three months to shop. By 2015 IE Research believes that there will be 488.8 million mobile payment users in the Asia-Pacific region and that the gross value of these mobile payments will reach $253.6 billion.

It is this explosion that has experts forecasting that the Asian-Pacific region will lead the way in innovations for mobile payments as well. Already, countries like India, South Korea and China have found creative uses for mobile payments.

Rohit Dadwal, the Asia Pacific managing director for the Mobile Marketing Association, told MobiThinking that consumers in this part of the world are also more willing to experiment with new technology and content. In Japan, for instance, residents can use a phone-based electronic payment system called  Mobile Suica to pay for anything from subway fares to food to books.

Take a look at some of the other mobile payment innovations and trends:

  • As a way to help millions of Indians who don’t have formal bank accounts, the National Payments Corporation of India created the Inter-Bank Mobile Payment Service, through which simple banking transactions like money transfer can be completed on a phone, according to
  • In some Asian markets, airtime is being used as a form of payment. Users offer the phone numbers of friends or family to purchase airtime, then cash out those minutes from a willing merchant.
  • KakaoTalk, a mobile message app available in South Korea, has a feature that allows users to purchase vouchers from cooperating retailers to send to their friends, according to Yahoo! News. You can buy your friend a cup of coffee and they’ll receive a coupon via chat that they can then redeem at the local coffee shop.
  • In some Asian markets, migrant workers can more easily send money to their rural relatives using mobile technology, according to The Frontier Post. Instead of having to travel long distances to get to the nearest banks, now people can receive remittances discretely and quickly through their mobile devices.
  • MoCa Pay, another application out of South Korea, can be used both on and offline and payment can be processed via a variety of methods including bar code, QR code, NFC or push buttons, according to Unlike other applications that can only accept a few different credit cards, MoCa Pay works with all products and credit cards.
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