Digital wallet innovators are integrating modern services into ecosystem platforms and transforming economies in the process.
Across the globe, mobile wallets are driving inclusion by providing financial access to previously underserved communities—as well as providing huge opportunities for industry growth. Digital wallets bring modern services together, such as e-commerce, travel, and even food, and these flexible combinations are further embedding digital payment solutions into consumer lifestyles.
Developing entire ecosystems from a digital wallet
With over six in ten people in Southeast Asia identified as unbanked, mobile wallets are transforming the lives of those in need of financial services—and quickly. In MENA (the Middle East and North Africa),
85 percent of consumers are reported to have used some form of digital payment within the last year alone.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic greatly accelerating the adoption of online sales, e-wallet penetration in Southeast Asia’s underbanked population is
forecast to hit 58 percent by 2025, a figure that surpasses expected credit card uptake within the same region.
Adapting to support community needs, digital wallets in emerging markets have pivoted to facilitate progressive change. By providing a simple and accessible method of paying for goods and services, what was once simply a stored value card has now evolved into a means of driving financial inclusion within economies.
Driving this revolution are brands such as
Grab and Gokej, who, despite their shared beginnings as ride-hailing businesses, now provide a multitude of e-commerce services, including groceries, food delivery, insurance, and hotel bookings, each from their individual platforms—known as ‘super apps’.
Rise of the super app
With financial innovation constantly morphing to meet customer needs, the positive effects of super apps on communities should come as no surprise. In Kenya, for example,
72 percent of the entire population now has access to mobile money services—with most enabled to do so through
Now a super app, although first launched as a microfinance solution, M-Pesa has integrated health, travel, and agriculture into its digital offerings, and, as of 2016, was reported to have
lifted over 194,000 out of poverty through the power of its innovative fintech services.
Similarly, GCash, an e-wallet ecosystem in the Philippines, has over
55 million registered users and 4.5 million partner merchants—reaching over 70 percent of the country’s population.
Providing services that embed finance into the daily lives of the underserved, GCash adoption rates have rocketed through simplicity and trust. Breaking down entry barriers with accessible technology, customers no longer need to visit a traditional bank—they simply need a mobile phone.
Of course, no super apps have been quite as successful as China’s
AliPay and WeChat. With a
combined market share of 96 percent, digital wallets and their subsequent ecosystems have replaced cash as the nation’s preferred method of payment, in addition to eliminating industry restrictions, widening consumer benefits, and increasing financial accessibility.