Thais among the biggest fans of cashless society, poll finds

Economy December 07, 2018 01:00

By   THE NATION

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THAI consumers say they are among the most ready in the world to embrace a cash-free future, whereas in Japan and other markets surveyed, consumers are taking more of a wait-and-see approach, even while recognising the appeal of select solutions. 



Along with Thais, Taiwanese and Indonesians also reported being keen on the cash-free trend.

Those are some of the conclusions reached in a survey by Line Corporation released yesterday, exploring attitudes towards and trust in financial technology (fintech) through a survey of 5,000 smartphone users in seven markets. The survey looked at consumers in Line’s four major markets of Japan, Thailand, Taiwan and Indonesia, plus South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Together, these markets revealed a major opportunity for the wider adoption of Fintech if the challenges of consumers’ low awareness and access to products can be overcome.

Across the seven markets, 64 per cent of respondents agreed that financial technology makes planning and managing their finances easier. Trust in financial technology was generally found to be high, with 63 per cent of survey respondents saying they trust the products and services they are currently aware of and a further 30 per cent feeling ambivalent towards them. Trust also appears to increase with youth, with only 55 per cent of those aged 55 and over trusting fintech, compared with 69 per cent of those aged 18-34, indicating greater upside potential for fintech with younger age groups.

However, in all markets surveyed, respondents’ knowledge of the financial technology related services and products currently available to them was relatively low, with less than half considering themselves knowledgeable in this area (44 per cent), rising to 52 per cent among younger audiences (those in the 18-34 age bracket).

Of those products and services that respondents would be most willing to use a mobile or app-based service to access, savings accounts (65 per cent), money transfers (57 per cent), current accounts (48 per cent) and insurance (48 per cent) were the most popular options given. Life insurance (65 per cent), travel insurance (58 per cent) and home insurance (50 per cent) were selected the top types of insurance respondents wanted to access in this way.

 While respondents in each market had different interests and concerns, Thailand, Taiwan and Indonesia all stood out as being particularly interested in a digital financial future. When asked about the prospect of their market becoming “cash-free”, all three answered well above the survey average of 37 per cent: In Thailand, 57 per cent of respondents said they were “excited” about going cash-free, followed by Indonesia at 56 per cent and Taiwan at 52 per cent. South Korea also answered positively, at 45 per cent. 

Those markets also responded more positively to purchasing financial products through a mobile-based service. While overall 65 per cent of survey respondents would open a savings account over a mobile app, Thailand led with 83 per cent, then Indonesia at 77 per cent and Taiwan at 69 per cent (South Korea also did well, at 75 per cent). 

In contrast, respondents in the UK, US and Japan were less eager to stray from traditional methods. Only a small percentage of respondents reported being excited about becoming “cash-free”, with Japan at 24 per cent, the US at 20 per cent and the UK last among the surveyed markets at 19 per cent. 

Japan in particular remains behind most developed nations when it comes to cashless payments, but as the government tries to move the country away from its dependence on cash, this is an area with much potential for growth. 

 The UK, US and Japan were also behind the survey averages for being willing to use mobile to buy fintech services. Japan had the lowest percentage of respondents say they would be willing to open a savings account, at 49 per cent, then the US at 53 per cent and the UK at 57 per cent (survey average 65 per cent). For making investments over mobile, however, the UK was last at 28 per cent, followed by the US and Japan at 37 per cent, closer to the survey average of 45 per cent.