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The COVID-19 health crisis has further decreased the use of cash in Asia-Pacific countries: new yStats.com report

The latest publication from Germany-based online research firm yStats.com, “Asia-Pacific POS Payment Methods 2020 & COVID-19’S Impact,” recounts the trends in point of sale payment practices in recent months, with emphasis on the effect that the worldwide health crisis has introduced. Yücel Yelken, yStats.com founder and CEO comments: “the move to alternatives other than cash brought about by the pandemic will likely have lasting consequences in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Shoppers turn to digital in-store payment methods rather than using cash in Asia-Pacific, during the pandemic

The payment preference of consumers at the point of sale is being transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the yStats.com report, multiple sources have indicated that Asia-Pacific countries have changed the way they pay during the health crisis. The main change is towards the reduced use of cash, as consumers in this region report using paper and coin currency less for a variety of reasons, including concern that cash may spread the virus. Among the alternatives to cash, a significant share of consumers in multiple markets report a preference for contactless methods of payment.

Amidst the health crisis, shift to mobile payment methods is a popular movement in the Asia-Pacific countries

Besides traditional credit and debit card payments, one of the alternative payment methods that saw a spurt in some countries in the region during the pandemic is proximity mobile payments. The acceptance of mobile wallets by merchants as well as consumers was already growing before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world and has been accelerated by the outbreak. Another example of alternative payment method growth included in the yStats.com report is a chart showing that a significant share of Australian consumers used non-bank contactless mobile apps as of March 2020. This report also describes the growth of other alternative payment methods such as use of QR codes through a smart device, and the contactless practice of select and pay online, pick up at store.

Asia-Pacific sees a downward trend in the use of cash during the COVID-19 pandemic

Though the move away from cash is a global phenomenon, there are some country and regional variations. China was a leader in mobile payments before the pandemic, and mobile wallet usage continued in the second quarter of 2020 as the country emerged from the peak of the crisis. Japan had been a bastion of cash transactions in-store before COVID, but QR or barcode payments have increased there, according to the yStats.com report. The publication also includes data on the major economies of the Asia Pacific region that have seen the shift away from cash in payment preference during the health crisis.