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China, Norway and UK lead way for mobile pay

Updated: Apr 18

Mobile payment apps are quickly being adopted by millions of people worldwide and can indicate a country’s attitude toward technological advances, with 47% of people using mobile wallets, according new research.

Merchant Machine has analysed and compiled data that reveals the top ten countries who use mobile wallets the most and which ones are the most popular.

Here are the top three:

  • China – An estimated 47% of phone owners in China use a mobile wallet, with WeChat and Alipay being the preferred platforms.

  • Norway – Ranking above countries like the USA and Japan, 42% of Norwegians use mobile wallets more than any other European nation.

  • United Kingdom – Ranking 3rd on the list, 24% of phone users in the UK are using payment apps, compare to in the US where only 17% are using these platforms.

In 2014, Apple launched their first mobile payment app, followed by Samsung and Android a year later. By 2022, it’s estimated that the transaction value of payment apps will reach nearly $14 trillion illustrating the fast-pace of the industry. Payment apps have been adopted quicker in China than anywhere else, but which countries are catching up in the market?

Merchant Machine have collated the facts and figures behind mobile wallet’s to give a landscape of one of the fastest moving technology markets in the world. The research looks at usage across countries, ages and different mobile wallets. Some of the key findings are outlined below:

Mobile-Savvy Nations

A country is often defined by their attitude towards technology as it often advances them as a society. In the mobile wallet market, these are the places whose residence have adopted Apple, Android and many other payment apps the fastest.

  • China – WeChat pay and Alipay are the two dominant payment platforms in a country with the highest GDP, making their market share all the more valuable. It’s estimated that 47% of phone owners use mobile wallets

  • Norway – Scandinavian nations are revered for their innovative societies, and their payment methods mirror this opinion. At 42% usage, mobile wallet usage is higher proportionally in Norway than in any other European nation.

  • United Kingdom – The convenience of mobile wallets could well have contributed to the popularity in the UK with 24% of phone users using payment apps, placing them in 3rd place.

  • Japan – Much like China, the advancement of the tech industry in Japan has often been mirrored by its inhabitants. This is no different when it comes to the adoption of mobile wallets, with an estimated ⅕ of smartphone owners using digital wallets.

  • Australia – Our research has found phone users down under are opting for the convenience more than many other international counterparts. With 19% using mobile wallets, they rank 5th above of the likes of USA and Singapore.

Across the Ages

Different age demographics adopt technology at different paces, particularly when it comes to mobile wallets. We’ve researched the attitudes of different age groups and whether they have or want a payment app on their phone.

  • Young Guns – The 18-34 bracket unsurprisingly takes top spot when it comes to both interest and usage of mobile wallets. Just under half of smartphone users in this demographic have a mobile wallet, with 32% stating that their interested by the idea of one.

  • Post Millennials – Venturing up the age groups one might expect to see a drastic decrease in mobile wallet usage, but it’s been found that 44% of 35-44 smartphone users have a mobile wallet, with just under a quarter uninterested by the app.

  • Older Generations – It appears that generations are becoming more and more tech-savvy every day. Just under 30% of those surveyed between the ages of 55-64 claimed to have a mobile wallet, with a further 27% saying that they are attracted by the prospect of using one.

Who’s Using What?

Mobile payments are used every day by millions of people, but what apps have become the most popular since their introduction? As always, there seems to be an endless competition between Apple and Android, but how is this reflected in the digital wallet industry?

  • Apple Pay All Day – Following its introduction, 36% of iPhone users had set up Apple Pay on their phone. In 2017, it was estimated that 87 million people used the app worldwide.

  • Sad for Samsung – Last year, Apple Pay exceeded Samsung Pay’s global reach by over double with only 34 million users. Even worse was the figures shown on the graphic that Samsung Pay actually dropped in usage in the first two years of it’s introduction by 4%.

  • WeChat Pay Winners – In terms of mobile payment platforms, it is Chinese company WeChat Pay that leads the way. Their 600 million users outrank many of their competitors combined.

Fellow Chinese platform Alipay also performs well, with an estimated 400 million users in 2017.

Ian Wright from Merchant Machine stated that ‘It’s inevitable that digital wallets are continuing to soar in popularity and this research only furthers this argument. With the well-established customer-base in China and other Asian countries combined with the rising popularity of mobile pay in the US and UK, one can only imagine where this industry is headed’.

To take a closer look at the past, present and future of the mobile wallet industry worldwide then you can view the full infographic here.


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