A recent study by a cybersecurity firm showed that financial technology (fintech) has been on the rise in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic accelerated the use of digital wallets. Consumers are heavily reliant on it because of the convenience, while businesses are digitizing operations,” Chris Connell, Kaspersky APAC managing director, said in a webinar on Thursday.
He said the demand for digital payments is quick and efficient, and people are seeing their payments in real-time.
The study, “Mapping a secure path for the future of digital payments in APAC”, had 1,618 respondents from across the region. It examined their attitudes towards digital payments, as well as the factors that encouraged them to adopt fintech.
About 90 percent of Asian respondents had used mobile payment apps at least once in the past 12 months.
The study bared that the Philippines has the highest percentage (37 percent) of new e-wallet users. This was followed by India (23 percent), Australia (15 percent), Vietnam (14 percent), and Indonesia and Thailand both with 13 percent.
Connell also pointed out that China has been a leader in digital payments since the country has been using e-payments even before the pandemic.
“Alipay and WeChat Pay had significant mass adoption and served as an example for other Asian countries,” he said.
Despite the rise in digital payment adoption, Connell noted that using cash is still dominant, as 70 percent of the respondents are still using it in their day-to-day transactions.
“Mobile payment and mobile banking apps are not far behind, since users (58 percent and 52 percent, respectively) are utilizing these at least once a week,” he said.
He said with this trend, then fintech may be dominant over cash in the next three to five years.
Digital transactions are safe and convenient for more than half of the respondents. About 45 percent of them cited social distancing as among the reasons for adopting digital payments.
The others (36 percent) found that digital was the only way they could transact during lockdown; while 29 percent saw that this is more secure and has some incentives from the providers.
Some are also hesitant to adopt fintech. When asked about their reservations on using mobile banking and apps, almost half (48 percent) of first-time users said they are afraid of losing their money, while 41 percent said they are afraid of storing financial data online.
Some respondents (26 percent) find fintech “troublesome” due to passwords, and about 25 percent believe their mobile devices are not secure enough.
With this, Connell suggested that users must be cautious when handing over sensitive information.
“Don’t readily share confidential information online, especially when the request is for your financial information,” he said.
It is also helpful if the app user will use his or her own device when making online payments. Public computers may have spyware and this will record everything the user types on the keyboard.
Connell also advised not to share personal identification numbers (PINs) and passwords with anyone.