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The Cashless World – Evolving Payment Environments in Key Asia Pacific and Western Markets

This report explores the cashless payment environments in key Asia Pacific and Western markets. It considers how payment cards and mobile payments are faring in both regions as well as how trends will develop in the future.

The depth of internet connectivity and smartphone penetration in many markets means it can be very easy to drive adoption of cashless payments, but the path to moving away from cash has become very different between markets. Cashless payments in most developed markets are still focused on payment cards, while in a lot of developing markets consumers are leapfrogging from cash to mobile payments. Compared to when payment cards were first introduced, the options for cashless payments and the situation of each market are so different that there can be no one-size-fits-all approach. And in some markets, the move to drive consumers to reduce the use of cash has reached a bottleneck.


– In markets where there is a large financially underserved segment, mobile wallets have proved an efficient way of providing access to banking and payment facilities.

– In such markets, internet infrastructure is crucial to ensuring financial inclusion for this segment of society, which in turn will increase the cashless payment rate in the market.

– Markets with smaller populations can learn from the cashless progression of countries like Sweden and adopt some of the steps they have taken. Linking up a national ID, bank account, and mobile phone number as part of a mobile payment system is a smart and efficient way of implementing a wider national cashless payment system.

Reasons to Buy

– Understand the cashless payment journey in different regions

– Learn how the cashless payment environment differs between markets in Asia Pacific and the West

– Discover how the cashless payment situation will evolve in the near future

Companies Mentioned



American Express


WeChat Pay



Apple Pay

Google Pay



Table of Contents

Table of Contents

1. Executive Summary

1.1 Market overview

1.2 Key findings

1.3 Critical success factors

2. The Cashless Environment in Asia Pacific

2.1 The current situation in Asia Pacific

2.2 Japan

2.3 China

2.4 Australia and New Zealand

2.5 South Korea

2.6 Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan

2.7 The rest of Asia Pacific

3. The Cashless Environment in Western Economies

3.1 US

3.2 UK

3.3 Sweden

4. Future Implications

5. Appendix

5.1 Abbreviation and acronyms

5.2 Methodology

5.3 Secondary sources

5.4 Further reading

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List of Tables

List of Tables

Table 1: ATMs per million inhabitants compared to population density, 2020

List of Figures

List of Figures

Figure 1: Japan is one of the most cash-heavy markets in Asia Pacific

Figure 2: Cash usage proportions fall when considering transaction value

Figure 3: In Japan, cash gifts are typically offered in elaborately decorated envelopes

Figure 4: Cash remains the preferred payment instrument in Japan

Figure 5: Alipay and WeChat Pay are widely accepted in China

Figure 6: Alipay and WeChat Pay are super apps rather than just mobile wallets

Figure 7: Adoption of mobile payments has penetrated all levels of society

Figure 8: In China, mobile payments exploded in popularity from 2013 to 2020

Figure 9: Singapore’s government consolidated all mobile wallets available in the market under the SGQR banner

Figure 10: A host of mobile wallet brands are available in Asia Pacific

Figure 11: Cash transaction volume is falling in the US, albeit at a slow pace

Figure 12: The UK’s first credit card

Figure 13: In the UK, the transition to cashless payments has been smooth

Figure 14: Cash is still an important payment tool even in a less cash-dependent society like Sweden


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