US, ASEAN lead global rise of real-time payments

The United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) were the fastest growing markets in real-time payments in 2019, respectively showing rates of 42% and 39%.

According to Prime Time for Real-Time, a new global report from ACI Worldwide and Global Data, more than half a trillion real-time payments transactions will be processed over the next five years.

This pioneering research analyses global real-time, account-to-account payment volumes and forecasts across 30 global markets, and projects a CAGR of 23.4% from 2019 to 2024. 

The new report outlines the five strongest indicators of a market’s real-time payments success — centrally driven payments modernisation initiatives, seamless and integrated payments experience with rich overlay services, connected ecosystem of players enriching user experience, digital payments maturity level and ingrained payment habits, and openness to alternative payment methods.

A national system or individual country does not need all of these indicators in place for initial adoption, but a combination of two or more is enough to drive the initial growth explosion.

The report shows that more than four in five Malaysia citizens (88%) rely on paper-based payment transactions in 2019, compared to 51% in Singapore and 71.4% in Thailand.

China is leading mobile wallet adoption rates globally, with 87% of adults having used one in the last year, compared to 73% in Thailand, 57% in Singapore and 56.5% in Malaysia.

Singapore citizens are highly reliant on debit, credit and charge cards, with an average of 4.5 cards per adult. Malaysia and Thailand falls back with 2.57 cards and 1.68 cards per adults respectively.

Jeremy Wilmot, group president for banks and intermediaries at ACI Worldwide, said that recent events have given digital payments mainstream attention, and faster access to funds for individuals and small business has never been more critical.

“We see that internet access is now a necessity, and the ability to transact online is inextricable from the need for connectivity,” Wilmot said. “Everyone needs to be prepared to handle the growth of real-time transactions, as well as digital and alternative payments and non-financial transactions.”