Mobile Payment Rates Surge During Pandemic

Mobile payment use has surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, research from eMarketer finds. Total mobile payment use hit one trillion in 2020, with YoY growth of 22.2 percent. Smartphone user penetration hit 44.6 percent, up from 38.3 percent in 2019.

Growth in mobile payment users will continue, but at slower rates, eMarketer predicts. This year’s 1.278 trillion users will be an increase of eight percent over 2020. Total global users could hit 1.498 trillion by 2025 while representing 48.2 percent of smartphone users.

China’s 735 million users make up 57.5 percent of the global total. The country’s mobile payment user growth has slowed, however. It is up only 5.1 percent from 2020, the first single-digit growth rate in several years. More than 60 percent of Chinese used a mobile payment platform at least once in a six-month period, the highest use eMarketer tracks. That rate should exceed two-thirds by 2025.

The number of mobile payment users in the United Kingdom grew by 25 percent in 2020 surpassing 10 million for the first time. That encompasses 22.7 percent of all UK smartphone users.

“The pandemic dramatically accelerated the shift toward a more cashless society in the UK, as consumers relied less on cash for in-store transactions,” said Cindy Liu, eMarketer director, forecasting, at Insider Intelligence. “One likely accelerator for mobile payment growth has been the increase in contactless payment limits to £45 ($57.71) last April during the early stages of the pandemic, and there are plans to increase that limit to £100 ($128.24) this year.

“For the remainder of our forecast, growth in the UK will remain above the global rate. In 2021, we anticipate that there will be 11.2 million mobile payment users, up 9.9 percent. UK users are on track to reach 13.9 million people by 2025, representing 28.2 percent of all smartphone users.”

More than 25 percent of Canadian smartphone users make mobile payments. The 27.6 percent rate represents a 19.7 percent jump from 2019.

“Contactless payment has been popular in Canada, even before the pandemic, thanks to well-established point-of-sale infrastructure, including widespread chip and PIN terminals—but most of it was done with contactless credit and debit cards,” said Paul Briggs, eMarketer principal analyst for Canada coverage at Insider Intelligence. “Growth in smart wearables adoption and more phones with NFC capabilities led to growth in mobile wallet usage among younger people in Canada.

“However, for mobile devices to take share away from card payments, they need to provide more incentives like rewards points, coupons, or store credit options.”

Growth for 2021 should be around 8.3 percent, leaving Canada 8.1 million mobile payment users. That should hit 9.4 million by 2025, or 31.8 per cent of smartphone users.

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