Thais are going cashless and mobile as electronic payments deepen roots in the Kingdom Visa survey

Stocks and Financial Services Press Releases Wednesday December 9, 2015 11:12
Bangkok--9 Dec--Spark Communications
Visa Consumer Payment Attitudes Study 2015 reveals appetite for electronic payments among Thais remains strong, driven by eCommerce and a keen interest in new technology such as biometrics.

Thais are carrying less cash than they did five years ago, citing higher card usage and a greater willingness to use electronic payments including eCommerce as the key drivers of this behavior, according to the Visa Consumer Payment Attitudes Study 2015.[1]

The study delves into the current attitudes consumers have on electronic payments and identifies trends in payments behavior among consumers in six Southeast Asian markets[2] including Thailand.

Overall, electronic payments are on the rise with more than half of those surveyed (52 percent) preferring to pay with cards than cash, and intending to move away from cash (55 percent) by using more electronic payments such as cards and through mobile devices. This is reflected in the fact that more than a quarter (26 percent) of those surveyed said they are carrying less cash compared to five years ago.

One of the main reasons for doing away with cash is safety; six in ten Thais believe carrying cash is unsafe (57 percent). The average money Thais carry in their wallets has reduced from 2,426 Baht in 2014[3] to 2,094 Baht this year, a 332 Baht decrease. The number of payment cards per person (excluding ATM card) however remains the same at two cards per person.

"We see a healthy convergence between a strong desire to eliminate cash and greater appetite for online shopping. One of the reasons people are carrying less cash is because of greater acceptance as more retailers embrace card payments nationwide. This year, Visa together with our client banks have added more than 1,000 electronic points-of-sale in the northeastern region alone. Also crucially, more purchases are made through computers, tablets, and increasingly smartphones," said Suripong Tantiyanon, Visa Country Manager, Thailand.

The potential for eCommerce in Thailand is high and key to the rise in electronic payments. The country has an internet penetration rate of 29 percent[4], but relatively low eCommerce engagement compared to countries with similar internet penetration. Despite the low proportion of active cardholders who shop online, a surge in transactions made through smartphones indicates consumers are taking up eCommerce – going mobile first.

"Though Thailand's eCommerce industry is still in its nascent stage, it is growing rapidly. Categories such as fashion and accessories, movie tickets, and bill payments will become key growth drivers as they have low online share but high frequency of purchase. The high proportion of transactions made via smartphones also presents a strong opportunity for growth," added Mr. Suripong.

The proportion of Thai respondents who said they shop online at least once a month has increased to 66 percent from 64 percent in last year's study. Their average online shopping session now lasts for 46 minutes. Their top reasons for doing their shopping online are the advantage of having the goods delivered directly to them (40 percent), overall convenience (37 percent), better price (15 percent), and greater choice of products (8 percent).

As the line between physical and digital blurs, Thai respondents also show strong appetite for innovative ways to pay. One in eight said they are interested in contactless payment[5] using wearables (83 percent) and shopping in store paying with their mobile phones (81 percent). Furthermore, one in seven (68 percent) said they are comfortable with relying on biometrics such as fingerprints and face recognition for payment authentication.

"Connecting the dots, these technologies have already been widely adopted by Thai consumers. You can pay at retail stores using electronic wallet function in phone applications. Visa payWave contactless payment is accepted by most major retailers. And biometric authentication is literally at your fingertip in many smartphones. The context is ripe for disruptive growth in electronic payment; it is only a matter of when," concluded Mr. Suripong.

[1] Visa commissioned Acorn to conduct the online study over the period of June to July 2015 with 3,000 respondents across Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Demographics of the respondents were male and female credit card holders above the ages of 18 year olds and holders of at least one general purpose card.

[2] Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

[3] The Visa Consumer Payment Attitudes Study 2014 was conducted in July 2014 by BlackBox Research on behalf of Visa. There were 500 respondents in each of the four markets and interviews were conducted online with representative quotas of gender and age. The study surveyed 2000 consumers in Singapore, Malaysia, The Philippines and Thailand.

[4] Source: Internet Live Stats ( as of July 1 2014 Estimate.

[5] Contactless payment allows consumers to pay by tapping their devices at payment terminal. Currently only two form factors, Visa payWave cards and stickers, are available in Thailand, though contactless payment applications such as Apple Pay and Android Pay are accepted by points-of-sale readers that take Visa payWave.

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