Cash is still king in Apac, says HSBC

HSBC Malaysia says 55% personal spending in Asia-Pacific is still transacted in cash. (Bloomberg pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Asia-Pacific has a long way to go in becoming a cashless region, though it has been leading the way in innovation and adoption of new channels to pay for goods and services digitally.

HSBC Malaysia said cash was still the predominant method of paying for goods in most Asia-Pacific countries, with 55% of personal spending by cash and cheque.

In a statement today, head of retail banking and wealth management Tara Latini said the deployment of cashless technology in Asia still faced the challenge of working across multiple countries and adhering to local regulations.

“While the growth in digital wallets in Asia has been phenomenal, only a handful are able to provide users with services in more than one Asian country, let alone on an international basis,” she said.

However, she noted that being in the most dynamic region in the world for digital payments can also be a source of opportunity.

“Companies and service providers with a strong foothold in Asia-Pacific are perfectly positioned to export their technology and capture a global lead, as the challenges of developing systems that can work across borders and currencies are solved,” Latini said.

HSBC noted that the government and regulatory authorities have been taking steps to speed up the transition to a cashless society.

Under the Financial Sector Blueprint, Bank Negara Malaysia targets to increase the number of e-payment transactions per capita from 44 transactions to 200 transactions and reduce cheque payments from 207 million to 100 million per year.