One or two generations ago, someone who needed to get his grocery shopping done would have to visit a nearby convenience store or supermarket. They would spend some time walking or driving to the nearest store, buy the things that they needed, and then pay with cash. A lot has changed since then. Since the moment the Internet came into inception, technology has been developing faster, literally without boundaries and making things practical. These days, there exist many forms of online payments. Almost everything you can think of can be paid online: from your utility bills to orders from your favorite brick-and-mortar store. Some consumer products have even thrived by having an online presence, as shown by the growth and success of Amazon. As far as the trend of taking things digital goes, Asia is no exception. Several countries in Asia are rising economically, and one of the main factors that contribute to this rise is the modernization of stores, of how people shop – an example would be China’s Alibaba.

Despite the success of China – and the likes of South Korea, Japan, and Singapore – in  establishing their presence as developed countries, Asia as a whole is a continent that’s still embracing and learning more about online and mobile payments. Countries with speedy Internet connection would of course benefit from this as their citizens would have no trouble accessing online and mobile payment services. On the other hand, there exist Asian countries (like the Philippines) who might not be so lucky – their slower Internet connections, and/or constant power outages from bad weather, have discouraged some people from going online. Here’s a list of some Asian countries and how they fare in this modern era of digital payments:


While being one of the most technologically-advanced, Japan has been reluctant to give up the use of hard cash. Only 14% of the Japanese are dematerialising their purchases. This trend might slowly change though, because Japan is among the top five countries in terms of online sale records. With around 118 million Internet users (which is 93.3% of the population), online and mobile payments can still grow in Japan.


This small island that’s also a country is also one of the biggest economies in Asia. With a population of nearly 5.8 million people, Internet penetration is reaching to at least 4.8 million of them, or 83.6% of the population. Singapore as a country is among the leaders who have been welcoming online and mobile payments. Stripe, a tech company that provides its users the ability to receive payments over the Internet, is in the phase of Private Beta testing in Singapore.

Hong Kong

While Hong Kong’s Internet penetration rate reaches 87.0% or around 6.4 million of its population, it still can catch up with the rest of the world. Hong Kong is still stuck to their Octopus card, which was introduced 20 years ago, with 8 out of 10 Hong Kong people who think their country is lagging behind.


Mainland China, that communist regime. While only around half of the population (54.6% or 772 million people to be exact) are exposed to the Internet, China is one of the world’s leaders in online and mobile payments. Even some beggars are using Alipay and WeChat Pay to receive money!


The Korea we talk about here is, obviously, not Kim Jong Un’s. As one of the countries in Asia with the fastest Internet speed, the Internet has successfully penetrated 92.6% of the population – which is 47.3 million in number. With PayPal and AliPay eyeing the Korean market, the number of Internet users and online/mobile payers can still grow.


This neighbor of Indonesia has roughly 32 million people – among which, 25 million of them are Internet users. This makes up to 78.3% of their population. From what we learn, at least 50% of Malaysians shop online one or more times in a month, with 15% spending RM 500 – RM 1,000 (USD 125 – USD 250) per month in online payments.


Thailand has one strong eCommerce ecosystem in Asia. With 57 million Internet users (or 82.4% of their population), local players are flourishing and entering the market. Thailand’s local merchants are also generally welcoming to these local payment providers due to better exchange rates. Plus, a local payment gateway in Thailand usually has the option to support payments through the Thai Baht.


With nearly 100 million people in 2018, their Internet penetration rate is at 66.3%, or 64 million. As can be concluded from their relatively-low Internet penetration when being compared with most of the aforementioned Asian countries, Vietnam is urged to embrace mobile payments. Alibaba’s boss, Jack Ma, thinks that the proportion of cash transactions in Vietnam is too high, despite the large potential of online payments – especially among youths who are tech-savvy.


Indonesia does not fare better than its neighbor, Malaysia. While boasting a population count of around 260 million, Indonesia’s Internet penetration rate is still at 53.7%, or 143 million of the population. While some have used online payment services, they still rely on ATM transfers. Credit card ownership is also not common in Indonesia, making online and mobile payments harder to access.


However, Indonesia, Vietnam, and China are not alone. Cambodia’s Internet penetration rate is even less effective. The Internet has only managed to reach 49.3% of the population, or a total of around 8 million people. However, as the mobile sector gains momentum in Cambodia, it looks like the country could be able to facilitate more practical means of paying in the future. In fact, there has been a local mobile payment app in play, Pi Pay.


If we have low, we have the lowest. In this list, India is the record holder among countries with the lowest Internet penetration rate. The Internet has reached approximately 462 million Indians, or 34.1% of the population. However, as shown by the report of the investment banking firm Credit Suisse, India is expected to score $1 trillion in digital payments by 2023.


With most of the Asian countries in the list having higher Internet penetration rates, we can hope that the future growth of online payments in Asia is strong. As proven by history, technology is always changing and developing as countries continue competing to be the best. Since digital payments are soon to be more common, don’t miss out. Check out our advanced and secure, multi-asset, BCMY (Blockchains.My) digital wallet app, where you can store and spend multiple crypto assets safely (including digital gold), among many other things.