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Real-time payments are now as popular as cash in Southeast Asia as pandemic accelerates the digitization of payments, new global study from ACI reveals

MIAMI & SINGAPORE – (COMMERCIAL THREAD) – Real-time payments are now as popular as cash as a payment method for Southeast Asian consumers, according to a new study from ACI Worldwide (NASDAQ: ACIW) and YouGov. Three in five consumers (61%) in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore prefer real-time payments as the preferred payment method in 2021, on par with cash (61%) and more than other categories of payment, including digital wallets requiring cash or card refills (56%) and credit cards (30%).

This shift towards real-time payments has been significantly accelerated by changing payment needs and preferences caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost a third (30%) of Southeast Asian consumers have reduced the use of traditional payment methods such as cash, credit cards and debit cards since the onset of COVID-19. As a result, more than half (53%) are now using real-time payments more frequently than before the pandemic.

Due to rapid technological change, consumers now expect mobile and real-time experiences. However, payments are often late. The development of real-time payment systems enables consumers, merchants and financial institutions to pay their friends and customers, pay their bills and transfer money instantly. While cash has always been an “immediate” form of payment, the advent of real-time payment rails brings this concept into the digital age with faster payment terms, consolidated notifications and reporting.

“This fundamental shift in consumer demand and payment expectations poses a challenge for banks, financial institutions and merchants in Southeast Asia,” said Leslie Choo, Managing Director – Asia, ACI Worldwide. “These organizations can hardly afford to put their modernization projects on hold, despite the challenges caused by COVID-19. Rather, they can drive growth by joining the region’s emerging real-time payments ecosystem, which will enhance their ability to innovate and transform while lowering the cost of infrastructure and operations.

The ACI Worldwide and YouGov study also reveals how consumers in Southeast Asia expect the benefits of using real-time payments in their home markets to extend beyond borders once that they start traveling abroad again, as well as when shopping cross-border. For future international travel, consumers have high expectations for the transparency, security and convenience of their payments in relation to their travel experiences before COVID-19:

  • More than half (54%) of Southeast Asian consumers who have traveled abroad in the past expect their use of real-time payments to increase on their next trip.

  • 70% say the option to use their preferred payment methods while traveling will now be more important. As a result, a quarter (26%) expect their use of traditional payment methods such as cash to decrease on their next trip.

  • Three-quarters (75%) say payment security and fraud prevention are now more important, while more than two-thirds (67%) say transparency of interchange rates is now more important.

As the number of Southeast Asian consumers making international e-commerce purchases has increased over the past year, consumers are looking for additional guarantees on payments to encourage them to do so more at home. to come up :

  • Almost a quarter (23%) of consumers have been buying more from merchants based in other Southeast Asian countries since the start of the pandemic, while a similar number (22%) are buying more from retailers. stores outside of Southeast Asia.

  • The most popular factors that encourage these buyers to buy products and services from international sellers more regularly are:

    • Ensuring payment and personal data is transmitted, secured and securely stored by international sellers (36%)

    • Possibility to pay with the preferred domestic payment method (25%)

    • Have a wider range of payment options than currently available (21%)

“The focus on modernizing payments is vital for financial institutions wishing to ride the wave of the region’s largest and most transformative payments trend: the emergence of a cross-border payments ecosystem in time. real, ”Choo added. “Unencumbered by existing payment systems that can hamper innovation in mature markets, Southeast Asian countries can leverage strong national central payment infrastructures as the foundation for real-time cross-border payments, which will be a catalyst for growth and trade in the years to come. . ”

Learn more about consumers’ real-time payment preferences, and how financial institutions and merchants in Southeast Asia can become ready for real-time, in the full report: Real-Time Goes Mainstream


The YouGov study was conducted in April 2021 on a nationally representative basis in Indonesia (2,000 consumers), Thailand (2,000 consumers), Singapore (1,000 consumers) and Malaysia (1,000 consumers).

About ACI around the world

ACI Worldwide is a global software company providing business critical real-time payment solutions. Customers use our proven, scalable and secure solutions to process and manage digital payments, enable omni-commerce payments, present and process bill payments, and manage fraud and risk. We combine our global footprint with a local presence to drive real-time digital transformation of payments and commerce.

© Copyright ACI Worldwide, Inc. 2021

ACI, ACI Worldwide, ACI Payments, Inc., ACI Pay, Speedpay and all ACI product / solution names are trademarks or registered trademarks of ACI Worldwide, Inc., or one of its subsidiaries, at United States, other countries, or both. The trademarks of other referenced parties are the property of their respective owners.

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