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Given the sheer scale and complexity of the American payments market, the latest POS cards advancement of using a contactless wallet for payment has been finding favour at the POS with extraordinary swiftness. Now, a recent study cited by TechCrunch foresees mobile wallets using the method being probably taken up by
over half of all users of smartphones in less than four years. Hygiene, of course, has been the propellant, but pent-up demand for frictionless user experience too has played a role, with younger consumers in particular inclined to use their phone at every opportunity and for every purpose – a particularly fortuitous phenomenon for market leader, Apple Pay. However, "to maintain such momentum will be a challenge", cautioned Gary Brennan of Argus Advisory Research. "In most other markets, mobile proximity payments have been part of larger offerings, such as banking and P2P platforms, the like of which has yet to develop in the US. The incorporation of rewards will be a big factor going forward in this market." One way or another, as this chart from Argus Advisory Research shows, there is still considerable room for contactless growth as the United States catches up with other leading markets.
Pandemic-era restrictions on dining out have, understandably, spawned a boom in grocery and food deliveries, with Instacart and DoorDash among the prime beneficiaries. Now, having built up substantial user bases, they are planning to partner with suppliers and unsecured lenders to launch new credit cards, with JPMorgan Chase set to begin issuing an Instacart credit card in 2022. According to Wall Street Journal reporting based on unnamed sources, the card will provide five percent cashback on purchases. For Chase, the appeal will be new forms of rewards, refreshing a profit pool that dried up dramatically with both travel bans and a general reluctance to fly having been facts of life for over a year now. (DoorDash meanwhile is currently reviewing bids from a variety of banks for a similar partnership.) In response to this historic change, fintechs such as Fold, BlockFi and Gemini are reportedly preparing to launch credit cards that offer bitcoin rather than rewards miles for usage. The idea is to tap into the perception that bitcoin has been good to investors while removing the somewhat onerous steps required to get a piece of the action.
Facebook's WhatsApp has over 120 million users in Brazil and now, courtesy of a central bank licence that has been a long time coming, WhatsApp Pay is free to initiate peer-to-peer payments between individuals, a stepping stone on the way to Facebook's ultimate goal of facilitating payments involving merchants, a lucrative market that is currently being serviced by the state-backed Pix service, which launched last October. Instant payments promises to be huge in Brazil, where there is a population of some 212 million and a phone penetration rate of 110 mobile phones per 100 inhabitants. WhatsApp Pay had to curtail its planned launch last year, though not before revealing the essence of its business model: as noted in Argus Advisory Research's new market report for Brazil, "Cost-free for individual users, the service came with a 3.99 percent merchant service charge for affiliated merchants". Pix meanwhile has been making the most of its head start, with over 75 million downloads of its app made within two months of launch and merchants not having to pay fees for the first six months.
To end, links to some other stories of interest this week...
Africa: Airtel sells mobile payments unit stake for $100m to Mastercard
India: Central bank reforms a boost for payments banks
Russia: Law requires domestic payments scheme software be pre-installed
US: Fintech firm Plaid announces $425m funding round
The Weekly News Digest from Argus Advisory Research highlights significant developments in payment cards, digital payments, acquiring, processing, retail banking and consumer credit. Our writers and researchers frame these items in contexts such as historical, sectoral and regional trends, adding a layer of value often missing from the rolling news cycle.
About Argus Advisory Research The market-leading online, interactive database and data dashboards covering the global cards and payments industry in detail, plus a range of data-packed country and regional reports. Leveraging financial cards data going back to 2010 – and forecasts up to 2025 – our unique datasets cover countries around the world and feature more than 250 metrics per market.