Global Proximity Mobile Payment Users

China and India Lead the Way in Usage for 2019

About This Report
Of the 938.2 million proximity mobile payment users worldwide, over two-thirds reside in China and India. Consumer adoption is still in its early days for most markets, but there will be fast growth in retailer support and usage over the next few years.
Table of Contents
  • How many people use proximity mobile payment apps worldwide? We forecast that 938.2 million individuals—or 36.0% of smartphone users—will use a mobile phone proximity payment app in 2019, a 13.5% year-over-year increase. Smartphone users are becoming increasingly comfortable scanning QR codes and using near field communication (NFC) technology to complete mobile transactions.
  • Where are proximity mobile payment apps most widely used? Payment app usage is highest in China, where an estimated 81.4% of smartphone users will access such apps in 2019. China’s user base primarily relies on Ant Financial’s Alipay and WeChat Pay, which is built into widely used mobile messaging service WeChat.
  • Where is adoption growing fastest? India (26.4%), Indonesia (24.3%), Mexico (20.3%) and Germany (20.1%) will be the fastest growing markets for usage in 2019. Retailers adding point-of-sale (POS) terminals to support proximity mobile payments will largely be responsible for driving this growth.

More than two-thirds of proximity mobile payment users reside in China and India. In fact, when excluding those countries, the percentage of smartphone users worldwide using payment apps falls from 36.0% to 16.6%. Across most markets, the mobile payment landscape is fragmented with a number of competing services. Players like Apple, Google and Samsung have struggled to gain widespread acceptance from consumers and retailers.

We define proximity mobile payment users as mobile phone users ages 14 and older who have made at least one proximity mobile payment transaction in the past six months; includes point-of-sale transactions made by using mobile devices as a payment method; excludes transactions made via tablet.

The success of proximity mobile payment adoption in China is due to the country’s mobile-first culture, as well as a booming middle class opening bank accounts at high rates. These newly banked individuals are choosing to open mobile payment accounts as opposed to signing up for traditional credit cards. These types of services are the primary in-store payment alternative to cash and credit cards. In 2019, nearly half of China’s population is expected to use mobile payments.

Editor's Note: We have amended our calculation for the percentage of smartphone users worldwide using payment apps excluding India and China, which was written as 9.4%. However, that calculation was based on figures for all users, not from the base of users 14+, which should have been used. The correct percentage of smartphone users worldwide using payment apps excluding China and India is 16.6%. We regret the error. 

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Corey McNair

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