MasterCard Worldwide announced today record growth of its contactless payments technology, MasterCard® PayPass™, across the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMEA) region in 2012, citing a 28% (YoY) increase in merchant locations.
MasterCard's PayPass contactless payment network now boasts nearly 700,000 merchant locations in 51 countries as of Q4 2012. Growth data reflects a strong demand from consumers for fast and convenient alternative to cash for everyday purchases in region, including those in emerging markets like Vietnam, which last month launched contactless payments for the first time. Australia, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, New Zealand, South Africa and United Arab Emirates were credited as key contributors to growth in the APMEA region, and hotbeds for innovation in contactless payments.
- In Australia, more than one-in-ten card transactions under $100 is now being made with PayPass.
- In Singapore, transactions made using PayPass at last year's Great Singapore Sale (GSS) grew 100-fold, with total spend up by more than 54%.
- In New Zealand, all new consumer credit and debit cards issued are enabled with PayPass. Consumer-led demand for contactless technology drove uptake among the country's most popular retailers, including Bunnings, Kmart, The Warehouse, Resene, Repco, and BP.
- In United Arab Emirates, MasterCard collaborated with Network International, the region's leading acquirer, to expand its contactless payments infrastructure, installing MasterCard PayPass terminals across more than 1000 stores in 2012, and paving the way for contactless mobile payments in the region.
Strong growth in merchant locations was made possible through strategic collaborations, including those with Coles and Woolworths supermarkets in Australia, NTT DOCOMO in Japan, and E.Sun Bank in Taiwan. Merchants are also seeing real impact to their bottom line.
Early last year, MasterCard worked with E.Sun Bank, one of Taiwan's top tier issusuers and a top chain hypermarket to roll out a new MasterCard PayPass co-branded card aimed at driving higher performance of their customer loyalty program. In less than one year, E.Sun Bank had issued 600,000 cards. PayPass functionalities have helped increase customer loyalty, delivering 15% higher spend, 20% less cardholder attrition and 10% more frequent usage than the bank's average. 
Emerging Markets Take Up Contactless Payments to Reduce Cash
Earlier this month MasterCard Worldwide and leading Vietnamese bank, Vietnam Export Import Commercial Joint Stock Bank (Eximbank) announced the launch of contactless cards enabled by MasterCard PayPass with hundreds of merchant acceptance locations countrywide. A first for Vietnam, the availability of contactless payments marks a significant milestone in the country's payments industry.
Under the partnership with Eximbank, all existing customers will be converted to PayPass cardholders. PayPass cardholders in Vietnam will now be able to make contactless payments at hundreds of merchant locations nationwide, as well as outside of the country, anywhere MasterCard PayPass is accepted.
Vietnam has made notable progress in recent months in its goal towards an increasingly 'cashless' society, partly due to an initiative from the government which aims to reduce cash payment to below 11 percent of total transactions, and have some 250,000 card-accepting merchants and 200 million transactions per year by 2015.
Mrs Dinh Thi Thu Thao, Deputy CEO of Vietnam Export Import Commercial Joint Stock Bank said: "The launch of MasterCard PayPass is a big step for Vietnam's payments industry and for its financial system, which is moving increasingly towards a reduction in cash payments. We're proud to be the first financial institution in the country to facilitate the shift towards a contactless payments ecosystem."
"By providing consumers in Vietnam with a simple, secure way to pay for small ticket items that consumers purchase most, we hope to play a role in helping the country achieving its goal of reducing cash payments over the next few years" said Anton Corro, Country Manager & Chief Representative, Indochina at MasterCard Worldwide. "MasterCard is committed to developing innovations that address current and future payment needs of people and governments around the world. The rollout of PayPass in Vietnam is a reflection of our bullish approach to driving the uptake of new technology and innovation in Southeast Asia's emerging markets."
Initial PayPass-enabled merchants in Vietnam include fast food restaurants, convenient stores, and super markets.
Innovation in Contactless Payments to Drive Future Growth
In addition to exponential increases in adoption, innovation in contactless payments underpinned the growth of PayPass across the region in the last year will continue to be a driver in coming months. Highlights of contactless payments innovation in the last year included:
- Australia's largest bank, Commonwealth Bank in conjunction with MasterCard launched Commbank Kaching, the first Australian iPhone application of its kind to facilitate peer to peer payments and use MasterCard PayPass to allow customers to simply tap their iPhone to pay anywhere PayPass is accepted.
- East Africa's largest retailer, Nakumatt, will introduce the multi-currency EMV MasterCard® PayPass™ Prepaid loyalty card to over one million of its loyalty program members in the coming months. The collaboration signaled the largest prepaid merchant agreement for MasterCard in the Middle East and Africa region, to date.
- In Japan, MasterCard was selected by NTT DOCOMO, the country's leading mobile operator, to help connect their domestic payments network to the world, and enable consumers in Japan using MasterCard PayPass™ Ready Smartphones to make contactless payments while traveling the world, anywhere PayPass is accepted.
- In the Middle East, Fransabank's MasterCard PayPass Card won the "Best Contactless Innovation Award in the Middle East".
- In South Africa, the rollout of Standard Bank's Muvo card with PayPass, brought cutting edge technology to Ethekwini Municipality's bus transit system.
- In Singapore, MasterCard collaborated with DBS, EZ-Link and Starhub to launch a Near Field Communication (NFC) app "SmartWallet", a seamless and secure digital wallet service.
- In Singapore, MasterCard, along with M1 and EZ-Link jointly launched the first Telco-Prepaid MasterCard PayPass card that rewards the cardholder's spending on the card with airtime bonus.