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More than 60% of world population will use digital wallets by 2026

Global take-up of digital wallets will accelerate over the next four years, driven by ‘super apps’ and QR code-based payments

More than five billion people will be using digital wallets by 2026 as “super apps” drive adoption in developing countries, according to a global study.

The next four years will see the number of global users hit 5.2 billion, compared with 3.4 billion this year, says the study from Juniper Research.

Juniper found that growth will come in countries that are considered “cash heavy”, spurred by the take-up of what are described as “super apps”, which combine multiple services as well as offering the ability to make payments.

The Southeast Asian nations of the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam are expected to see the fastest growth and Juniper predicts that 75% of these countries’ populations will adopt digital wallets over the next four years.

“These rapidly growing markets represent a significant opportunity for digital wallet vendors, but they must work intelligently to maximise their position,” said Juniper Research’s Damla Sat, co-author of the study. “A highly competitive wallets landscape means that vendors must differentiate themselves by integrating machine learning to provide spending insights and introduce new services, such as wealth management, to add value.”

Payments using QR codes will be the most used digital wallet transaction types by 2026, says the study, with 380 billion transactions globally predicted for that year. QR code payments will account for 40% of all transactions by volume.

Another study from Juniper this April found that the value of digital wallet payments will be more than $12tn in 2026. It said PayPal was the leading digital wallet provider, followed by Alipay, WeChat Pay, Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Digital payments technologies received an unexpected boost in demand during the Covid-19 pandemic, when governments set rules to prevent physical contact and consumers were forced to use digital services.

In 2021, PayPal said the pandemic had led to a 24% spike in total active customer accounts, as more and more consumers turned to online shopping.

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