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Mobile wallets: The full guide

Discover where mobile wallets are, where they are going, and how they can delight your shoppers.

21 November, 2016
 ·  5 minutes
Mobile wallets: The full guide

Mobile commerce currently accounts for 37% of the world’s online spending, with the number climbing to around 50% in the U.K., Australia and China. And mobile wallets, with their seamless payment flows, backed by powerful brands like Apple, are helping to drive this trend. 

Adoption in different markets and industries varies greatly, due to different regulations, infrastructure, and level of consumer readiness. Apple Pay and Android Pay are currently targeting main markets like Europe, Asia Pacific and the U.S., while Samsung Pay, which is currently an in-store method, is also turning its attention on developing markets in South America. Meanwhile wallets like Alipay and WeChat Pay have become mainstream across China, and beyond.

The leading mobile wallets

Apple Pay: The leader in luxury and convenience

Two years after launch, Apple Pay has announced 12 million users across the U.S., Canada, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, the U.K., Switzerland and France. Based on volume processed on our platform we see it is the fastest growing native wallet, with 400% growth in the past year. 

As a trailblazer, Apple Pay has fought hard to drive adoption. In London and Tokyo it partnered with transport networks to enable Apple Pay as an alternative to travel cards. Now with Apple Pay for the web, it is attracting web-based shoppers as well. And it seems to have worked; Apple Pay volume on our platform doubled in the past two months. In store Apple Pay payments are possible via any NFC enabled terminal, with no additional integration required.

For businesses, Apple Pay has two core benefits: The first is its user demographic; iOS users are typically affluent early adopters, an ideal target for luxury brands. 

The second is Apple’s signature sleek user experience, which drives conversions by making payments totally frictionless. One luxury clothing brand, uses Apple Pay to eliminate the need to build a shopping basket; shoppers simply tap on the Apple icon below an item and confirm payment with Touch ID. 

Apple Pay also helps businesses that rely on high frequency orders, such a food delivery companies and coffee outlets. JustEat, for example, makes repeat orders even easier by enabling them via the Apple Watch.

The airline industry has also benefited from supporting Apple Pay. The ability to store boarding passes, and make payments, via the Apple Wallet makes it the ideal travel companion. Vueling, for example, is seeing significant gains since supporting Apple Pay.

Image of person using mobile wallets on their phone

Android Pay: The potential floodgates  

Android Pay launched in the U.S. in September 2015, and now has users across the U.S. the U.K., Poland, Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

It is worth noting that Android users outrank iOS users in key markets, and has over 80% of smartphone market share worldwide, according to Statista. So while Apple users might lead the charge, Android could be the one to open the floodgates.

Android Pay is available in-app, in store via NFC, and most recently, via mobile web.

Samsung Pay: The broadest reach for in store payments

After launching in South Korea in August 2015, Samsung Pay entered the U.S. as an in-store payment method. Since then it has extended its coverage to China, Singapore, Australia, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Russia, and Spain. It currently has 5 million registered users. 

In addition to credit cards, Samsung Pay supports membership cards, gift cards and coupons, thereby opening the wallet to a broader segment of users. And it sets itself apart by being able to imitate a magnetic strip through MST technology. This makes it possible to pay when no NFC terminal is available – a bonus in the U.S., where EMV adoption is still ramping up. On Adyen terminals contactless EMV is fully supported, in which case Samsung Pay transactions will be handled as NFC payments.

Meanwhile in China…

In terms of mobile wallets adoption, China is light-years ahead and, at 560 million, it is the largest smartphone user base in the world. There are two main players in this market:


Alipay accounts for 50% of allonline paymentsmarket in China. And, with 450 million users, it is a driving force behind mobile payments in the country. 

Alipay is popular with digital businesses like Evernote, making it easy to onboard freemium users in China. For luxury retailers it is a great method for connecting with a critical mass of Chinese shoppers, both home and abroad. The Cambridge Satchel Company saw an uplift of 15% after rolling out Alipay, and Daniel Wellington reported that it was able to reach Chinese shoppers quickly and easily by supporting Alipay.

WeChat Pay

The current hot topic is WeChat Pay, which has 300 million users and growing. It is an exciting method because it marks the birth of Conversational Commerce, which is the ability for shoppers to make a payment directly inside a chat thread. WeChat has built an entire ecosystem in which Chinese can chat, network, and interact with brands. By introducing payments WeChat is closing the loop, making everything possible in one application. 

WeChat Pay is only available for shoppers with a Chinese bank account. But, like Alipay, it is critical for reaching Chinese shoppers, and we are currently integrating it for luxury brands, airlines and travel booking sites.

Mobile wallets are a crucial mechanism for unlocking the customer journeys your shoppers increasingly expect. We work closely with all the mainpayment methods, including mobile wallets, to ensure we provide you with the best integrations, as soon as they become available. And, our local experts will help you choose the payment mix best suited to your business model and shopper requirements.

So you can delight shoppers with the best payment experiences, all over the world.

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