Mobile Payments are The Future of Transactions in Southeast Asia

With a population of 600 million and good mobile saturation, Southeast Asia is becoming a battleground for e-wallet companies.

Temasek and Google the digital wallets or e-wallets are taking off in Southeast Asia owing to a growing internet user base and a digital economy to be worth US$50 billion in the region.

Digital wallets – allow users to keep their credit cards and bank accounts electronically safe.

E-wallets – allow users to make payments on e-commerce websites and also in real-life through QR codes or near field communication (NFC).

Tencent (the group that owns WeChat Pay) and Alibaba’s Alipay are looking to expand their market to Southeast Asia. WeChat Pay, the e-wallet service that comes with their messenger app, WeChat has been cleared for a Malaysian electronic payment license that would allow transactions in ringgit.

Ant Financial (the company that runs Alipay) is working with merchants supplying services to travellers from China, and forming joint ventures with local partners for e-wallets using their brands.

In Malaysia, Ant Financial will launch a joint venture with Touch’n Go, a transport smartcard affiliate of lender CIMB Group Holdings, later this year. Around 10 million travellers use Touch ‘n Go for subways, buses, tollways, and car parks. Malaysia’s central bank gave approval to Touch ‘n Go on Jan. 8 to operate an e-wallet.

Alipay’s e-wallet partnerships in the SEA: TrueMoney Wallet, Thailand; GCash, Philippines; Touch’n Go, Malaysia; and Emtek, Indonesia.

PayNow and PromptPay – Singapore and Thailand government supported e-transaction systems that allow peer-to-peer transfer of funds using only identification numbers and mobile phone numbers.

The two countries are facilitating their transition to a cashless society. The PromptPay system is part of Thailand’s National ePayment plan which seeks to integrate formal financial transactions such as welfare payments and taxation into an electronic system.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore recently made public that it would facilitate a partnership for cross-border transactions between PayNow and PromptPay.

In Singapore, Grab is trying to integrate hawker stalls into the GrabPay system.

In Thailand, SCB Easy of Siam Commercial Bank and Kasikornbank’s K Plus are two active mobile payment providers. Non-banks include Line Pay, Garena’s AirPay and AIS’s mPay.

In Indonesia, Go-Jek has also launched Go-Pay. In December last year, Go-Jek bought over three fintech firms in a move to dominate the Indonesian digital payments market.

In Myanmar, only 5% of the population have bank accounts. The majority of the public deposit or withdraw their money through authorised agents with their identity card without the need for registration. These agents include the thousands of SIM card point of sales and small businesses like grocery store merchants that are scattered around the country. The major mobile payment players are EasyPay; TrueMoney; MyanPay; WaveMoney.

In Cambodia, mobile payment application Pi Pay has scaled quickly to become a ubiquitous digital wallet solution and the first e-commerce app to gain real traction in the city.

Vietnam most promising E-Wallet solutions: Mo Mo and Payoo. Uber has signed a deal with Mo Mo that will let riders to pay for their rides with the e-wallet.

Loas, BCEL One mobile application and e-wallet OnePay launched by Banque Pour Le Commerce Exterieur Lao Public (BCEL) allow customers to transfer funds between accounts, pay utility and phone bills, pay taxes, and more, right from their own mobile phone.

While OnePay allows users to pay anyone, anywhere, directly from their account by simply photographing a QR code.