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QR Code Emerged as The Most Popular Mobile Payment Method by Thai Consumers: UnionPay Study

Thai consumers in general have a positive outlook towards a cashless society. According to findings from The Future of Payments Study conducted by UnionPay International and Nielsen with 400 mobile payment users in Thailand aged between 18 and 65, seven in 10 respondents (71 percent) would like for the country to go cashless, and six in 10 (61 percent) are ‘confident’ of living in a completely cashless society.

While Thailand is making a concerted move towards a cashless society by encouraging consumers to use smartphones and tablets to conduct financial transactions, the Study found that mobile payments are also gaining traction in Thailand with more than half of Thai consumers (53 percent) using at least one form of mobile payment in the past three months. On average, mobile payment users in Thailand used 3.1 mobile payment platforms in the past three months, and close to one in four (22 percent) have used the three key mobile payment methods - QR Code, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Transfer and Contactless payments in the same period.


The study revealed that consumers are generally positive about the nation’s cashless aspiration, and a majority of the respondents still see value in driving mobile payment adoption within their respective social circles as the nation works towards greater inclusivity in the cashless drive. Around 71 percent of Thai consumers said that they are likely to recommend mobile payments to their family, friends and colleagues, while 90 percent would take the initiative to teach their family, friends and colleagues to use mobile payments if they were resistant to doing so.

“Thailand is accelerating its journey towards a cashless society and mobile payments are becoming a pivotal part of this journey with QR code being the best performer in mobile payment as more than 90% of respondents have used this type of payment,” said Pakee Charoenchanaporn, Director of Consumer Insights, Nielsen Thailand.

Nonetheless, younger Thai consumers (18-21 years old) expressed lower levels of enthusiasm (53 percent compared to the overall average of 70 percent) towards a cashless society, and lower levels of confidence (46 percent compared to the overall average of 61 percent) in living in a cashless society. “For Generation Z, their income and ability to hold financial products are lower than the older age group. The younger generation who does not have the spending power yet; and are less aware of the mobile payment methods available; hence the less positive sentiments towards cashless society/mobile payments,” explained Pakee Charoenchanaporn.


When comparing the use of various payment modes, it came as no surprise that cash emerged as the top mode of payment for Thai consumers. This was followed by mobile QR Code, with 75 percent having used this form of payment method in the past three months, and P2P transfer with 67 percent having used this form of payment in the same period.

When asked how long they think it would take Thailand to go cashless, respondents estimated that it would take Thailand around 12 years on average to go completely cashless. In terms of consumer sentiments towards Thailand becoming a cashless society in the near future, less than half (43 percent) said they are confident that Thailand will become a cashless society in the near future.

Mr Vincent Ling, Deputy General Manager, UnionPay International South East Asia said “The journey towards a cashless society will not happen overnight. As we continue to accelerate towards this vision, mobile payments will play an increasingly important role in replacing cash, especially for quick transaction. We believe that with the collective steps taken by the key stakeholders and industry players, we can expedite the process of going cashless to less than 12 years. UnionPay believes that our push to enable QR Code for payments will also play an important role in enabling a more inclusive cashless society, as this form of payment allows consumers and merchants to adopt it easily without the need for costly devices or infrastructure.” 

“The use of mobile payments is clearly on the rise among Thai consumers. Efforts from various parties including the government, financial institutions, payment networks and merchants to drive mobile payments have significantly raised public awareness and increased mobile payment adoption. One of the key factors deterring consumers from adopting QR Code payment is the limited merchant acceptance and fragmented offerings. UnionPay QR Code, based on EMVCo. global standard, is interoperable across 10 million merchants in 24 markets globally. Consumers can enjoy the ease of QR Code payment using a single app.” added Vincent.

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