Why APAC Residents Can't Put Down their Mobile Phones

Their cellphone payment usage climbs 30 per cent in 2018

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The world’s obsession with the humble mobile phone is well known. By 2019, the number of users across the globe is expected to pass the five billion mark. Small wonder then the Cambridge Dictionary has declared “nomophobia”, the “fear or worry at the idea of being without your mobile phone or unable to use it,” as the word of 2018.

If we focus just on the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, smartphone adoption is likely to hit the two billion next year (it had one billion users in 2014), according to Forrester’s Asia Pacific mobile and smartphone forecast.

This growing use is translating into the phenomenal growth of new Internet users globally, and the APAC region is responsible for the lion’s share, says a 2017 Mobile Adobe Digital Insights (ADI) report. Based on the analysis of 1.7 trillion visits to over 16,000 websites between January 2014-17, the report said smartphones were the source of 500 million new Internet users globally, with India and China delivering a staggering 366.3 million new consumers and Indonesia, 15.7 million. Senior ADI analyst Trevor Jones attributed smartphones for nearly all the growth in traffic to the Internet. “Desktop and tablet traffic is stagnant or shrinking in the vast majority of APAC countries,” he said.

What’s the rush?

Besides checking the phone frequently to watch Instagram stories and check emails, Facebook and WhatsApp, the APAC population is also using the device to make mobile payments. In fact, the mobile payment use in the region grew 30 per cent in 2018, according to market research company GfK’s latest FutureBuy report, which was based on 11,000 online interviews conducted across 11 APAC markets to study shopping habits and behaviours of consumers across 18 products, from packaged food and beverages to wearables and home appliances.

With companies like Lazada, Amazon and Shopee offering tempting deals and easy-to-use apps, it’s not surprising that over 60 per cent consumers cited the mobile device as their most important shopping tool. “Online shopping is growing rapidly at a global level as an increasing number of consumers are realizing and appreciating the many advantages it offers,” says Karthik Venkatakrishnan, GfK consumer insights lead for APAC. “This was largely driven by the deepening Internet penetration rate across countries, the appeals of purchasing online boiling down to lower prices, convenience and the availability of greater options.”

The choices they make

GfK says it is mostly the millennials who are driving the growth in cashless mobile payments across Asia Pacific. What’s more, over a third of the consumers said they preferred to shop on their smartphones. Among the top three most popular products purchased online were toys and wearables, the report said.

“Using cash as a payment method has declined 5 per cent compared to a year ago, and we foresee a persistent downtrend in the coming years,” says Venkatakrishnan. “Largely driven by the deepening internet penetration rate across countries, the appeals of purchasing online boil down to lower prices, convenience and the availability of greater options.”