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China and Norway way ahead on mobile payments, UK trails in third

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Thanks to WeChat Pay and Alipay, China is by far the most mobile-payment friendly country – but Norway is a surprising close second. The UK trails in in third.

Research into the global payment market by merchant account and card payment fee comparison service Merchant Machine reveals that 47% of Chinese consumers use mobile wallets and mobile payments, while, at 42% usage, mobile wallet usage is higher proportionally in Norway than in any other European nation. 

Here in the UK, 24% of phone users using payment apps, placing them in third place. This lack of UK interest was recently backed up by research by IDEX Biometrics, which suggested that mobile payments are almost as unpopular as cheques – three quarters (75%) of its respondents claimed that they use cards, including contactless, most often, compared to cash (21%), mobile payments (3%), and cheques (1%).

Japan and Australia complete the top five. Much like China, the advancement of the tech industry in Japan has often been mirrored by its inhabitants. This is no different when it comes to the adoption of mobile wallets, with an estimated 20% of smartphone owners using digital wallets. 

In Australia, the research finds that phone users down under are opting for the convenience more than many other international counterparts, with 19% using mobile wallets, ranking above of the likes of USA and Singapore. 

Through the ages

The 18-34 age ground, unsurprisingly, takes top spot when it comes to both interest and usage of mobile wallets. Just under half of smartphone users in this demographic have a mobile wallet, with 32% stating that their interested by the idea of one. 

Venturing up the age groups one might expect to see a drastic decrease in mobile wallet usage, but it’s been found that 44% of 35-44 year old smartphone users have a mobile wallet, with just under a quarter uninterested by the app. 

It appears that generations are becoming more and more tech-savvy every day. Just under 30% of those surveyed between the ages of 55-64 claimed to have a mobile wallet, with a further 27% saying that they are attracted by the prospect of using one. 

Who’s Using What? 

In terms of mobile payment platforms, it is Chinese company WeChat Pay that leads the way. Their 600 million users outrank many of their competitors combined. Fellow Chinese platform Alipay also performs well, with an estimated 400 million users in 2017. 

Following its introduction, 36% of iPhone users had set up Apple Pay on their phone. In 2017, it was estimated that 87 million people used the app worldwide. 

Last year, Apple Pay exceeded Samsung Pay’s global reach by over double with only 34 million users. Even worse for Samsung Pay is that it actually dropped in usage in the first two years of its introduction by 4%. 

“It’s inevitable that digital wallets are continuing to soar in popularity and this research only furthers this argument,” says Ian Wright from Merchant Machine. “With the well-established customer-base in China and other Asian countries combined with the rising popularity of mobile pay in the US and UK, one can only imagine where this industry is headed.”

New ways to pay

The move towards adopting mobile wallets is part of a growing trend among shoppers to embrace different ways to pay. While mobile offers quick and secure ways to pay online, on mobile and in-store, shoppers are also looking at new ways to manage payments.

Many retailers, such as ASOS and Amazon Fashion now offer Buy now, Pay later options where shoppers only pay for online purchases that they don’t return. Meanwhile, Arcadia Group retailers – including Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge, Wallis and Burton – are offering the option of paying in instalments.

Using Klarna’s ‘Slice it in 3 ‘option when shopping online, customers can buy goods with a first instalment on a debit or credit card. They then have to make two subsequent payments via their chosen payment card 30 and 60 days later. The merchant, meanwhile, gets paid immediately.

This, says Klarna, builds on its Pay Later option in that there’s no need for shoppers to apply for credit and there is no risk to the customer of interest, fees or late payment charges. Shoppers, it says, will instead enjoy a smoother path to purchase and more options at the till.

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