The global pandemic in 2020 caused a massive shift in consumer spending habits. According to Google’s e-Conomy SEA 2020 Report, eWallet transactions rose from around 18% before COVID-19 to 25% after, while consumers’ use of cash declined from 48% pre-pandemic to 37% post. With many countries in lockdown, online shopping became the preferred method for making purchases.
This led to a huge growth in eCommerce in Southeast Asia. While eCommerce trends were already gaining traction in this region, the health crisis accelerated digitalization and changed what was purchased, like groceries and cleaning supplies. Each country has unique consumer spending habits. We delve further into them using statistics from PPRO’s latest report on the region’s top five markets.
Indonesia’s favourite method of payment is by card at a rate of 34%, with most of those purchases made using local cards rather than major international brands. The second most used payment is through bank transfer at 29%. Following bank transfers in popularity are eWallets (17%), and cash (13%) respectively.
We explore Malaysia’s thriving ecommerce scene
There are many eWallet options available in Indonesia, including GoPay with over 100 million users, and OVO, which has seen a rapid increase in users by 267%. Another app, DANA, is the favoured eWallet of Lazada and Bukalapak which are both immensely popular eCommerce sites in the country. One service offering a full range of services is DOKU, a popular payment platform that offers bank transfers, internet banking, an eWallet and cash options too.
In Malaysia, nearly half of all online purchases are made via bank transfer (46%). A popular bank transfer app is Financial Process Exchange (FPX) since it works with all major Malaysian banks. Next up is credit and debit card payment at 32%. Here, unlike Indonesia, the most common cards in use are from international brands instead of local companies.
Cash comes in third place with 11%, and last is eWallets at only 6%. The use of eWallets is likely to rise since 40% of consumers say they are using them more than they did before the pandemic. Boost is a widely used eWallet that is accepted by over 120,000 merchants in Malaysia. GrabPay, part of the wildly popular Grab app, is another major eWallet. Lastly, Touch ‘n Go, BigPay, and AliPay are other online payment platforms and eWallets in use.
Unlike the other countries on our list, the Philippines marches to the beat of its own drum and still overwhelmingly (37%) prefers to use cash when making online purchases. At first, this may sound contradictory, but thanks to services like Dragonpay, shoppers can take a barcode or transaction number to participating locations, such as a convenience store, ATM, or kiosk, and pay for their online purchase in cash. Upon providing proof of payment to the eCommerce site, their order ships.
Following cash, the next most popular option is bank transfer (29%) with PayMaya, one of the biggest mobile banking apps in the Philippines. Then, card (22%) and eWallets (8%) follow in popularity with GCash, the country’s top eWallet app having over 10 million downloads in 2020.
In Singapore, the card reigns supreme with a 75% majority as a preferred payment method. Of that percentage, around 46% use recognisable international cards Visa, Amex, or Mastercard; and a little over half use local cards.
Bank transfer and eWallets tie at 10% each. Like Malaysia, GrabPay is a commonly used eWallet while PayNow is a bank transfer app usable with nine different Singapore banks. Alternatively, Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) services, such as OctiFi and hoolah are rapidly gaining users during the pandemic.
Vietnamese consumers prefer to use credit or debit cards for online purchases (35%) too, but of those who do, about 90% of them do not use an internationally recognised card. VTC Pay is one of the country’s biggest payment methods offering three ways to pay: international credit card, bank transfer, and eWallet. Bank transfers are the next most popular payment option at 26%, followed by cash (21%) and finally eWallets (14%). ZaloPay, an extension of the top messenger app in the country Zallo, and MoMo, which doubles as an over-the-counter remittance and payment platform, are the leading eWallets here.
Despite the economic loss in other industries, eCommerce in Southeast Asia saw positive growth, probably thanks to the pandemic. Many consumers in the region expressed that they would likely continue to shop online and use the ePayment methods they habitually used during the lockdown periods.
The current eCommerce trends pushing these nations towards retail and service digitization will most likely continue into 2021 and beyond as eWallets and other cashless payment options become more mainstream in the region. Though each market has its own localised payment options, the gradual shift to more online friendly options is evident in all five countries. The eCommerce space in Southeast Asia will be interesting to watch in the coming decade.