Aussies are ditching debit cards and going digital instead, as Apple Pay and Google Pay begin to take hold

  • Australians are increasingly paying with eWallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay, making almost a quarter of all retail purchases with the things.
  • It establishes digital wallets as the second-most used payment method after credit cards, and comes as the expense of debit cards which have been relegated to third.
  • Buy now, pay later providers like Afterpay and Zip meanwhile only account for around 4% of the market, although are expected to continue to grow quickly.

Despite not existing in Australia just a few short years ago, the likes of Apple Pay and Google Pay have exploded in popularity.

Digital wallet payments are now the second preferred payment option for retail therapy in Australia, only beaten by credit cards, according to commerce tech company FIS.

“Much like the rest of the APAC region, Australians are increasingly embracing digital payments, forgoing the more traditional credit-debit card combinations when shopping online, according to our 2019 Retail Global Payments Report,” Asia-Pacific general manager Phil Pomford said in a note issued to Business Insider Australia.

In fact, more than a fifth of all retail purchases last year were digital, while credit cards amounted for more than one in four buys. When it comes to electronics, clothing and footwear bought online, however, eWallets like Apple Pay won out – accounting for 28% of individual purchases.

“eWallets are popular all over the world: from Apple Pay to Google Pay, Visa Checkout to Masterpass, Alipay to WeChat Pay and hundreds of smaller local alternatives,” the report said.

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An increasing number of Chinese visitors shopping in Australia could also prove a big driver of growth yet, with apps like Alipay guiding shoppers to retailers that accept it.

Debit cards meanwhile are falling behind at just 17% of the overall spend, while buy now, pay later providers like Afterpay and Zip are still catching up. Classified as ‘eInvoices’ they made up just 4% of the online retail sector. FIS expects this will grow, however, as consumers and retailers alike continue swarming to them.

“Cards and bank transfer facilities such as POLi and BPAY dominate online payments down under, accounting for 60% of eCom transactions,” the report said.

That could undergo quite a transformation if estimates for future growth ring true. FIS forecasts that online shopping, or eCommerce, in Australia will swell from $US22 billion a year industry to $US32 billion.

Under-pressure Australian retailers would do well to cater to the trend in order to snap up that growing business, according to Pomford.

“In order for Australian retailers and merchants to succeed in the increasingly noisy e-commerce landscape, they need to understand local consumer preferences and offer the right mix of payment methods to meet their expectations. It’s not about offering every available option, but rather focusing on those that best suit your business model and match the needs of your customers,” he said.

With Australians continuing to cut back on their shopping, retailers may have no other choice.

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