Overview of the Southeast Asian Payment Methods

Overview of the Southeast Asian Payment Methods

Southeast Asia is a group of diverse states between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Since the total population in Southeast Asia is beyond 600 million, the retailers should not ignore Southeast Asia in order to conquer the world market. Therefore, retailers have to grab this golden opportunity due to the fast growing economy and encouraging digitalized ecosystem.

These days, there has been a lot of stories that circulate around the industry which says global marketers are eyeing the Southeast Asia market.

It is important to know that people in the Southeast Asia are still far from getting all of their needs catered. Some still prefer cash over-the-counter, some would prefer cash-on-delivery method while some are searching for other methods that were unserved by the local companies.

This shows that the Southeast Asians’ concern in security is still high.

Calling for Global Companies

As Southeast Asia is a very fragmented market, there has always been a gap in each country. Additionally, all of the countries in the region have different structures that makes a noticeable gap, for example between Singapore and Vietnam.

Due to the fragmentation, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Therefore, instead of doing a big scale approach, all of the approaches should be done in a micro-level scale which focuses in several aspects such as:

  • Preferred payment method (e.g: Cash)
  • Preferred devices (e.g: Mobile device and desktop)
  • Preferred search tool engine (e.g: Social Media)
  • Preferred advertising style (e.g: Hold a campaign or localizing the products)

With many countries are still relying on global brands and products to cater their daily essentials, there’s no way the consumers could stop trusting the services offered by the global companies.

A reasonable understanding of the neighboring countries will help you circumnavigate this differed yet encouraging business sector. Eventually, it will achieve a wide range of customers, from all over the region.

Southeast Asia’s total sales across the e–commerce accounts today are less than 3% compared to other countries. This is just the starting point for Southeast Asia as the market is expected to grow by 25% from year to year due to the increasing penetration of technology and internet in the region.

Diverse countries, diverse payment options

Southeast Asia comprises of diverse states. With different level of technology penetration, there are a lot of payment options provided. Some would prefer online and some would prefer offline payment methods.

In a country like Thailand, the use of online payment is still low due to the lack of trust perceived by its people. Thus, it hinders the growth of e-commerce in the country which will further affects the whole region.

However, Thailand is not only the country that feels insecure with its system. In a Nielsen’s report, cash still holds an unchanging significance to the Southeast Asians. Therefore, providing cash payment method should be the key to win their purchasing decision. The survey has recorded a very strong preference in cash, with the Philippines leading (74%), Thailand (68%), Vietnam (61%) and Malaysia (60%).

In order to cater the cash payers and other customers that have a serious concern over payment processes, it is essential to consider the payment gateway that is secure and suitable for business purpose, especially the one which highly focuses on Southeast Asia.

We are one of the payment gateways in Southeast Asia that has already succeed in offering cash, card and other payment options for consumers.

Singapore, the entrance to Southeast Asia

Singapore is the hub of all new innovations in Southeast Asia, including fintech. The status that it holds as a hub, is strategic for all global companies to approach Singapore as the leading country in Southeast Asia.

With English as its first language, it offers an incredibly business-friendly environment and a good starting point for the rest of the region. This is the reason for Singapore to be considered as the entrance to Southeast Asia.

The Shopping Trends in Southeast Asia - Indonesia

In the recent year, Indonesians are reported to love being online but only 2% of the millions population who shop online. It is observed that they do not trust online shopping due to several reasons.

For examples, mismatch products between the listed and real ones, delivery services, scams that involve financial matters as well as internet fraud which comes from the website itself. These factors have built the sense of insecurities in the Indonesians to shop online.

However, with the booming population which has caused bad traffic jams, online shopping should be a daily necessity for the community.

Preferred payment method by the Indonesians:

  • Cash payment
  • ATM
  • Convenience store payment
  • Online banking

Sadly, not all parts of Indonesia are provided with banks and ATM due to geographical factor. With the growth of fintech, payment gateway with multiple options and top security will undoubtedly ease the transaction and payment processes for the Indonesians, especially while doing an online shopping.


Malaysia is one of the early receiver of the online shopping influence in Southeast Asia. With the effective logistic and improvised payment services, more and more Malaysians are attracted to shopping online compared to physical shopping.

This can be seen through the increasing number of online shopping websites and social media accounts that sell multiple choices of products. This is the proof that the future of online shopping in Malaysia is clear and competitive even though some are still not confident to spend a big amount of money online.

Preferred payment methods by Malaysians:

  • Cash payment
  • Card payment
  • Online banking
  • Convenience store payment

Malaysians prefer using the above methods as their daily payment preference. This is the shopping style that has been observed for years even though the country has now being exposed to more cashless method.

However, with the launching of CIMBPay, Samsung Pay and other e-wallets are slowly approaching the locals to try diverse options.


Other than famous with its spicy food, Thailand is the hub of beauty and fashion in Southeast Asia. It has a lot of potential to grow and approach the global level. However, its lack of security has made the Thai shoppers themselves to not shop online.

In 2017, Thailand is planning to fuel the growth in many aspects of online shopping and payment. Therefore, people can anticipate the improvisation that they are working on, especially in the business itself as well as the security.

Preferred payment methods by the Thais:

  • Online banking
  • In-store payment method
  • Cash payment

Most Thailand people prefer these kind of methods while doing their daily shopping. With variety ways of shopping and perceived lack of trust, Thailand still has a long way to go to achieve the trust of its people by only receiving the local supports.

The Philippines

Philippines are more to the lifestyle on the go concept. Therefore, they want everything to be easy, convenient and fast, for instance, buying a quick and easy meal. However, for online shopping, they are still cautious most in making payment online other than the minor factors such as return and exchange policy, delivery service and many others.

Preferred payment methods:

  • E-Wallets
  • Cash payment
  • Online banking
  • Over-the-counter (OTCs)
  • Convenience stores

As recorded by Nielsen, Philippines hold a big number of cash-preferred users. However, the above payment methods have significantly catered the Philippine’s shopping experience.


Vietnam Express International recently stated that Vietnamese prefer shopping on the global websites. Therefore, more global retailers are now focusing on Vietnam and that has contributed to the growth rate which is about 2.5 times faster that Japan’s, according to the industry experts.

The reason why they prefer international websites is because they have clearer and trusted procedures and previous customers’ experiences.

Preferred payment methods by the Vietnamese:

  • Online banking
  • Cash payment

The payment methods preferred by the Vietnamese clearly shows their shopping patterns which is more inclined towards purchasing from the international websites. Cash payment method is probably used to buy the products offered by the local companies.



In short, it can be said that the concern of online and offline shopping relies highly on security and payment processes. The fact that many people from Southeast Asia are not trusting the online services is quite upsetting. They are in fact, not too far from the development that was achieved by other developed countries.

For most Southeast Asians, international companies are more trusted and established. Therefore, the security and everything that they offer are of higher quality than their local products. Southeast Asia is calling more businesses from the outside to endeavour this untapped potential of the world market.

Additionally, by supporting local payments approaches, you can deliver a wonderful customer’s experience and transformation which are essential for the customers to feel the local presence incited by the global companies.

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