Real-Time Payments “Evolution” Underway as APAC Seeks Growth Frontiers: Report

Asia-Pacific is getting ready for the next phase of its real-time payments journey as the region’s key service providers look for new growth opportunities and prepare “to enter the next stage of their real-time payments development.”

This, according to the third edition of Prime Time for Real Time 2022, released by ACI Worldwide, (NASDAQ: ACIW), in partnership with GlobalData, a data and analytics firm, and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr).

The report – tracking real-time payments volumes and growth across 53 countries – “includes an economic impact study for the first time, providing a comprehensive view of the economic benefits of real-time payments for consumers, businesses and the broader economy across 30 countries.”

As noted in the announcement, the report “covers all G20 nations, excluding Russia.”

The research shows that governments that “advance the real-time modernization of their national payments infrastructure create a win-win situation for all stakeholders in the payments ecosystem: consumers and businesses benefit from fast, frictionless and hyper-connected payments services, financial institutions future-proof their business in a highly competitive environment by speeding up Cloud-first and data-centric modernization, and national governments boost economic growth, reduce the size of their shadow economy and create a fairer financial system for all.”

Highlights Asia-Pacific (APAC):


In 2021 Thailand “recorded 9.7 billion real-time transactions, the fourth leading country in the world.”

The widespread adoption of real-time payments “resulted in estimated cost savings of US$1.3 billion for businesses and consumers in 2021, which helped to unlock US$6 billion of additional economic output, representing 1.12% of the country’s GDP.”

With real-time payments transaction numbers expected to rise to 25.7 billion in 2026, net savings for consumers and businesses “are forecast to climb to $US3.9 billion in 2026, helping to generate an additional $13.4 billion of economic output, equivalent to 2.08% of the country’s forecasted GDP.”

Of all countries covered in the Cebr economic impact study, by 2026 the country has “the second largest forecast GDP facilitated by real-time payments in percentage terms (2.08%).”


Singapore “saw real-time payments transactions hit 256 million and realized approximately $105 million worth of cost savings for businesses and consumers, while adding $US349 million of additional economic output, equivalent to 0.10 % of GDP.”

Real-time payments transactions “are predicted to reach 603 million in 2026, a CAGR of 18.7% – net savings for consumers and businesses are expected to reach $231 million, generating additional economic output of $US573 million, or 0.15% of GDP.”


Malaysia “recorded 1.1 billion real-time payments transactions in 2021, accounting for an estimated $434 million cost savings for businesses and consumers, and unlocking $364 million of additional economic output, equivalent to 1.11 % of GDP.”

Cebr forecasts real-time transactions “to grow at 3.6 billion in 2026, a CAGR of 26.9%, with net savings for consumers and businesses expected to reach $637 million in 2026, generating additional economic output of $US954 million, or 0.2% of GDP.”


In December 2021, Indonesia “launched its first nationwide real-time payments network, BI-FAST.”

The infrastructure was “implemented in less than six months. The country’s central bank requests that the country’s financial institutions rapidly adopt and implement the underlying infrastructure.”

With real-time transactions set to rise to 1.6 billion in 2026 – net savings for consumers and businesses are forecast to climb to $US222 million, “helping to generate an additional $US747 million of economic output, equivalent to 0.05 % of the country’s forecasted GDP.”

The report “identified APAC as the prime driver for global real-time payments growth and adoption, with many of the region’s nations operating successful, mature schemes.”

However, much of the success has been “built on a rapid surge in national, low-value transactions.”

As high growth rates flatten, APAC nations are set “to move up the value chain to explore and expand growth opportunities beyond their own shores.”

Leslie Choo, Head of Asia-Pacific, ACI Worldwide, stated:

“Asia-Pacific remains at the forefront of real-time payments innovation as its real-time base pivots towards larger volume transactions and more sophisticated services for our businesses and consumers. The next stage of evolution for the region is to develop linkages to provide a truly pan-regional real-time infrastructure, unlocking much greater economic benefit and opening up the formal financial sector to the region’s vast unbanked and underbanked population.”

Jeremy Wilmot, chief product officer, ACI Worldwide, remarked:

“Real-time transactions and growth forecasts continue to rise globally, with emerging countries like India leading the way and outpacing developed nations. Governments around the globe that enable real-time schemes are driving economic growth and prosperity by providing consumers and businesses with cheaper, faster, and more efficient payment methods,” 

Owen Good, Head of Advisory, Centre for Economic and Business Research, noted:

“By allowing for the transfer of money between parties within seconds rather than days, real-time payments improve overall market efficiencies in the economy. Real-time payments improve liquidity in the financial system and therefore function as a catalyst for economic growth. This is especially important for our fast-paced and digital-led gig economies. Workers are paid quickly, allowing them to better plan their finances. Businesses have more flexibility and reduce the need for burdensome cashflow management.”

For more details on this update, check here.

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