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11 popular mobile wallets around the world

Global payment technology has evolved by leaps and bounds over the decades. It was in 1950 that the first modern credit card was introduced in the United States. Just 70 years later, people across the world have been able to use mobile wallets to pay for products and services right on their cell phones. The COVID-19 pandemic has made virtual payment options more popular than ever. 

Mobile Money in Africa 

Africa has the largest mobile money market in the world and the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated its growth . At the same time, to stimulate the economy, many African governments have lowered barriers to encourage more people to sign up for mobile wallets. 

Many people living in Africa do not have access to traditional banking services. In fact, in 2018, around 57% of people who considered the mainland as their home had no bank account model at all. Mobile money technology has enabled the unbanked to access financial services more quickly. To have a mobile money account, all you need is a cell phone – no bank account required.

While the popularity of the following companies varies by country, each of them helps provide financial services that many citizens would not have otherwise. 

MTN Mobile Money

With 46 million users worldwide, MTN stands out among other mobile wallets in Africa for recognition and adoption. It offers services in Rwanda, South Africa, Republic of Congo and at least 22 other countries in Africa and the Middle East.

Orange Money 

After its initial launch in 2008, Orange Money , owned by the Orange Group , quickly became one of the most popular mobile wallets in Africa. With around 45 million users , it is only slightly less used than MTN. It’s also available in 18 countries across the continent, so it’s one of MTN’s biggest competitors in many places. 

M-Pesa 

Launched in 2007 by the Vodafone Group and Safaricom , M-Pesa has active agent operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique and Tanzania.

Although it is only available in seven countries in Africa, M-Pesa still reaches a large number of citizens on the continent. Most of its customers are concentrated in Kenya, but it has over 41.5 million active users in total. One of the main drivers of its popularity is customer service. As its user base grew, its agent network grew at the same pace.

Mobile wallets in Asia

Asia is the epicenter for the adoption of this technology. For example, digital wallets account for 48% of payment volume and over 70% of e-commerce spending in China.

Nearly a third of e-commerce spending in Asia also comes directly from these mobile wallets. While some popular options around the world are available across the region, the following offers remain the most popular. 

Alipay

While there are many mobile wallet options in China, Alipay is undoubtedly the king. In 2020, it accounted for 55% of the Chinese mobile payments market and there were 1.3 billion users of the service. Users love it because it also provides services in the areas of wealth management, investments, and microlending. 

WeChat 

While Alipay may be the most popular option in China, WeChat is not far behind. A survey from the second half of 2019 showed that it represented 39% of the country’s mobile wallet market and had 1.17 billion users.

As one of the most popular communication methods in the country, its virtual payment offering immediately had a massive user base. 

GCash

While China may have many well-known brands of virtual wallets, other Asian countries have their own mobile money providers. In the Philippines, for example, GCash has 33 million users and so far is the most popular mobile wallet on the island by total users.

Mobile Money in Latin America

As in Africa, many people in Latin America do not use traditional banking services, although this varies from country to country. Regardless, as in other developing nations, mobile money and mobile banking options are gaining traction in the region.

Want a reason? Mobile internet access has increased in Latin America. In fact, a recent report by the Global System for Mobile Communication reveals that 4G coverage in Latin America increased to 85% in 2019, while Mexico alone has experienced a nearly 20% increase in mobile internet penetration in the last five years.

Digital and cloud payments are also expected to drive fintech and banking investments in Latin America in the coming years. The following mobile wallets have already established themselves to take advantage of this revolution.

DaviPlata

DaviPlata is a mobile wallet offered by one of the largest banks in Colombia, Banco Davivienda. With DaviPlata, Colombians can pay for many goods and services that they would use cash for. They can also withdraw money from their DaviPlata wallet at Banco Davivienda ATMs.

With DaviPlata, Banco Davivienda is working to give Colombians access to financial services without the need for a bank account. Users can transfer direct deposit money through wallets, get their balance on their phone and make payments digitally. 

DaviPlata is making a name for itself thanks to its contract with the Colombian government to distribute payments to beneficiaries of Familias en Accion. This social safety net program reaches over 900,000 Colombians. 

Tigo Money 

Many citizens of Paraguay, Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador rely on Tigo Money for many of their financial needs. The mobile wallet has more than 3.7 million users in these countries.

Tigo Money is just a version of the Tigo product, known as Tigo Pesa in Tanzania and Tigo Cash in other parts of Africa. 

Mobile Wallets in North America

Virtual payment options in North America are among the most widely available in the world. You can also use these digital tools in countries around the world, but you cannot normally use them to send money from one country to another. 

Even though the adoption of these services in the United States is not as widespread as their availability , they are becoming more common, especially in retail environments.

Google Pay

Android users have a virtual payment system integrated with Google Pay. Users can make contactless payments in dozens of countries, from Austria to Singapore to the United States; You can see the full list here . However, sending money to friends and family with Google Pay is limited to the US and India at the time of writing.

Apple Pay

Users of iOS devices – including Apple Watch and iPad – can pay with their phones in over 60 countries.

Samsung Pay

Samsung device owners can also use the phone’s mobile wallet app to make payments. It is accepted in at least 24 countries.

After all, what is mobile money? 

Many terms are used in reference to mobile money technology: e-wallet, digital wallet, mobile wallet, mobile banking, mobile payments… and the list goes on. 

Let’s take a look at two of these common terms. Mobile wallets allow you to pay with a credit or debit card without actually having to carry the physical cards. Instead, you pay from an app on your phone. For example, when you use a mobile wallet to pay in a store, you can tap your phone over a reader at the checkout counter. The merchant charges directly from the card you provide in the mobile wallet. 

The more general term, mobile money, refers to the ability to make payments, transfer money between accounts, deposit money, or withdraw funds using a mobile device.

Not all mobile money accounts require a traditional bank account, which makes them popular in developing countries where more people are likely to be “outranked”. Armed with just a phone, mobile money users can store funds in a secure account connected to their cell phone number. They can take money to a mobile money agent to be added to their phone bill.

Meanwhile, others can transfer money to mobile money accounts through their bank, a credit or debit card, a remittance provider, or their own mobile money account.

International money transfers to mobile wallets

Thinking of sending money abroad to a mobile money account? 

We make international money transfers faster, easier, more transparent, and more accessible. Our reliable and easy-to-use mobile app is trusted by over 3 million people worldwide. 

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