Global emerging markets are looking better than ever after a strong performance in 2017. Many of these markets show no signs of slowing down with rapid economic, political and financial progress across all regions.
Abhishek Banerjee and Rossini Zumwalt dive into the major high-growth markets with what to watch in 2018.
Africa is the next ecommerce revolution and 2018 is the year to start making this rapidly expanding market a priority. Here we have over a billion people across 54 countries and the 21st century has seen a remarkable industrial transformation. This young and high-growth continent is at the cutting-edge of global consumer behavior, without the burden of entrenched distribution channels or legacy infrastructure for entrants to overcome. The region has one of the fastest growing middle-class consumers markets in the world. Their buying power is significant and they are driving demand for content on mobile platforms. The explosion in mobile usage is not only important from a consumer perspective, but beyond that, it’s extending into payments innovation. Nearly 60% of the world’s active mobile money accounts are in Sub-Saharan Africa alone (Ecobank). M-Pesa has been hugely successful in Kenya and we expect this to be replicated across the board for mobility payments in Africa. We are calling it early: 2018 is going to be an instrumental year for this frontier market.
In Latin America, 2018 is going to be the year of Argentina coming off the back of remarkably strong ecommerce and mcommerce performances. While the country has experienced economic unrest in recent years it benefits from very high internet penetration and the largest mobile Internet usage in Latin America. It also has a larger middle class than other countries in the region and consumers with high spending power. We are already seeing some major payments developments take effect there. Credit card systems are being overhauled with Visa and Mastercard no longer captive to First Data and Prisma. We expect digital banks will be prevalent and some of the cash-based methods will give into more mobile and digital payments. These are all being driven by government liberalization and there will be more to come through the year.
Expect an even bigger acceleration of India’s payments innovation in 2018. It’s been over a year since the Unified Payments Interface launched and version 2.0 will see the release of some game-changing features. In October 2017 alone there were over 76 million UPI transactions made, up from 30 million in September 2017. If this adoption speed continues, the reality of a cashless economy isn’t far off. It has major potential to disrupt the way Indian consumers pay digitally. Expect a further shift away from cards and wallets. The payments system overhaul has been driven by the government’s investment in state-of-the-art technology and customer adoption and awareness campaigns. People are excited about the reduction in costs and greater inclusion.
Indonesia is primed to grow quickly and rapidly and we expect 2018 to be a monumental year there. With swift GDP growth and the fastest growing number of Internet users across the globe (We Are Social and Hootsuite), the market is ripe. Indonesia has been quick to establish itself as a mobile-first nation, presenting a unique opportunity for merchants to introduce digital platforms to further engage tech savvy consumers. By 2025, Southeast Asia’s digital economy is predicted to surge to USD 200 billion, with Indonesia’s digital market to account for nearly half of that (Alphabet Inc. and Temasek Holdings Pte). This would put the nation third in the region, behind Asian powerhouse markets China and India. Much of this is driven by continued mobile expansion, set to exceed 100 million this year according to the country’s government. One of the biggest challenges for ecommerce in Indonesia has been the low penetration of debit and credit cards. However, there continues to be great potential for alternate payment methods, as consumers demonstrate their wiliness to pay and shop online.