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Asia Pacific Leads in Adoption of Mobile Financial Services

Updated: Dec 11, 2019

It’s undeniable that the introduction of mobile technologies has brought about radical innovation across industries, among those that are most impacted, is the personal finance space.

Though the growth of finance apps has become a global phenomenon, it is Asia-Pacific that’s leading the trend, according to a new report by mobile measurement company Adjust and mobile data and analytics platform App Annie.

In report titled The Mobile Finance Report 2019, the two companies explore the state of the finance apps market, highlighting key trends while diving into how APAC is leading the world in the field.

Exponential Growth in Finance Apps within Asia Pacific

Mobile finance is a booming industry with neobanks and super apps becoming increasingly popular. The trend is particularly noticeable in Asia Pacific where finance apps downloads jumped from 383 million in 2014 to reach a massive 1.8 billion in 2018, showcasing that APAC has been gaining “astronomical momentum,” the report says.

In terms of number of downloads per user, China (the only country on the list that doesn’t include Play Store downloads) is the clear number one, according to App Annie data, with Chinese users downloading 6.8 finance apps on average, against 4 for South Korea and 2.6 for Indonesia.

The unbanked populations fuel growth

According to the report, a key driver of finance apps’ rapid growth in APAC is the expansion of mobile money and apps which have succeeded in tapping into demographics that have so far been excluded from the traditional banking sector.

Mobile has opened personal finance to the world’s unbanked, the report says, and in 2018 alone, 143 million mobile money accounts were opened, most of which located in Southeast Asia and Africa, according to data from mobile trade body GSMA.

Super apps gain traction

Another factor driving the growth of finance apps in APAC is the rise of super apps. These apps offer a portal that gives access to a wide range of services from ride-hailing and messaging, to social networking and financial services.

Super apps are also leading the change in the payment space by combining social, retail and financial services with their vast data sets of insights to deliver mobile consumers a single, integrated and efficient experience.

China, which is home to the super apps WeChat and Alipay, is unsurprisingly the biggest driver of mobile money uptake in the region. In China, super apps have become central to people’s lives who use them to order meals, hail rides, make mobile payments, and much more. According to GSMA, Alipay has partnered with more than 200 financial institutions and is integrated with over 100,000 merchants outside China.

Retention rates

According to the research, banking apps have the best retention across all app categories with 32% of users returning on Day 1, and 15% still using the app by Day 30. Compared to 15 app verticals, banking apps come in third, with a Day 30 retention rate that trails news (18%) and music (17%).

Payment apps, on the other hand, have a much lower retention rate than other applications and “have a hill to climb when it comes to improving retention,” the research says.

This is due in part because of consumer habits and the effort required to change current attitudes, it says. Additionally, not only do payment apps must compete with market rivals, they must also work to switch dependence (even preference) on cards and cash.

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