Mastercard study: Digital habits on the rise in Southeast Asia as new normal approaches

June 24, 2020 | 15:20
The COVID-19 pandemic has driven momentum towards the digital economy in Southeast Asia by necessitating the rapid adoption of e-commerce, home delivery, as well as digital and contactless payments, according to the latest Mastercard Impact Studies.
mastercard study digital habits on the rise in southeast asia as new normal approaches
In a recent study, Mastercard identified a rise in online shopping in the region

The report indicates that some of these trends and habits formed in response to the pandemic are expected to remain for the long term, even when countries in the region start to ease restrictions and prepare for a “new normal”.

Gathering input from consumers across 10 markets in the Asia-Pacific region, the report examines the effects of extraordinary events on attitudes and behaviours among consumers and business professionals.

The recent results indicate a rise in online shopping in the region, with 40 per cent or more of surveyed consumers in Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand reporting they relied more on home delivery services in April than in March. Meanwhile, nearly half of the consumers surveyed in Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand reported an increase in their online shopping during the same period.

Alongside these changes in purchasing habits was a region-wide shift in payment methods, with the majority of consumers in all Southeast Asian markets surveyed reporting a significant decrease in cash usage – 67 per cent in Singapore, 64 per cent in Malaysia and the Philippines, and 59 per cent in Thailand – since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Meanwhile, various contactless payment methods saw their usage increase. In Singapore, 31 per cent of respondents reported more use of contactless credit cards to pay, while mobile and digital wallets saw the greatest uptick in use among all contactless payments methods in Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand.

For merchants of all sizes, Mastercard has a range of solutions and services in e-commerce, payments, cybersecurity, fraud protection, data analytics, and productivity to help businesses thrive in the changing business environment.

With regards to consumer sentiment in the region, up to 83 per cent of Filipinos remain cautious about COVID-19 infection, while the figures are 70 per cent in Malaysia, 55 per cent in Singapore, and 41 per cent in Thailand and there are broad concerns held across the region about how the pandemic is affecting household finances.

The uncertainty has also led to consumers across the region holding off on making big-ticket purchases – 80 per cent in the Philippines, 75 per cent in Malaysia, 74 per cent in Thailand, and 65 per cent in Singapore – all higher than the APAC average of 59 per cent.

While concerns about the pandemic continue, there is great confidence among consumers in how the situation is being managed in their respective countries.

For instance, in Singapore 88 per cent and 68 per cent of respondents felt positive or neutral about how the government and banks are helping them through the crisis. This confidence has led to 20 per cent of respondents indicating they believe they will increase their level of investment over the next few months.

“In these challenging times, Mastercard is committed to using the power of data to enable businesses of all sizes to adapt and evolve alongside consumers’ changing needs, preferences, and behaviours through ecommerce tools, increasing contactless payment limits, and spearheading the shift to contactless across the region. By putting consumer sentiment and concerns at the core of all decisions, businesses, and governments will be able to move with greater confidence from this current situation, and mitigate the adverse impact of future crises,” said Safdar Khan, Division president, Southeast Asia Emerging Markets at Mastercard.

A global technology company in the payment industry, Mastercard has adopted a drive into digital commerce many years before COVID-19 to maximise options and convenience for consumers in how and where they shop and pay.

For merchants of all sizes, Mastercard has a range of solutions and services in e-commerce, payments, cybersecurity, fraud protection, data analytics, and productivity to help businesses thrive in the changing business environment.

Mastercard is fully focused on supporting consumers and businesses in their bid to go cashless. Some of these initiatives involve increased contactless limits, promoting contactless transport solutions to simplify customer experiences in transportation and creating new e-commerce tools to facilitate e-payment among people and businesses.

By Dinh Thuy

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