KEY POINTS

  • The payments industry is being disrupted in markets across the globe. New payments infrastructure, increased access to financial services, and government intervention are driving digital disruption in both developed and developing regions.
  • India serves as the largest case study in the world for digital payments disruption. After the country's prime minister abruptly took two major bank notes out of circulation, millions of consumers were forced to look for alternative ways to make everyday payments, with many turning to digital channels. Major players such as Mastercard, Samsung Pay, and Amazon have been able to leverage this shift and push new offerings in the market.
  • Mobile money services are setting the stage for other forms of digital payments in markets like East Africa. Mobile money is extremely popular in developing regions, which is a great sign for the digital payments industry. Firms that can integrate their payment products with such services could see tremendous success — in Kenya, mobile money service M-Pesa is used by over 65% of the country’s population. 
  • Disruption isn't limited to developing nations. Australia, which already has a well-established payments industry, remains on the verge of digital disruption thanks to a $720 million investment that will overhaul the banking system and a high willingness by its population to adopt digital offerings.
  • The biggest takeaways from global digital disruption are often applicable to strategies in the US and worldwide. Although conditions in each region are largely unique, there are common insights that can inform best practices for global players. For example, firms should provide consumers with an in-app experience that offers a suite of services rather than one-off payments; likewise, giving consumers increased access to financial services via digital technology can help to spur usage of digital payments.

Introduction

European and North American countries with advanced economies often serve as bellwethers for the payments industry. When firms in these markets test new technology and create products and services that enable consumers to make digital payments, other markets tend to follow. But disruption is not limited to Western markets; the payments industry is being upended in major regions throughout the world, and some of the greatest examples of this disruption can be found in developing nations. In some cases, these countries not only adopt certain aspects of a digital payments ecosystem faster, but they also do so with more efficiency than their Western counterparts.

Digital disruption in developing regions is complex and varied, making it difficult for the industry to devise effective strategies for international expansion — but understanding the drivers of this disruption can significantly aid payments companies. Despite each region’s unique attributes, there are three [...]