Payments predictions: insights from Boku on what lies ahead for the industry in 2024

Thursday 25 January 2024 15:30 CET | Editor: Raluca Constantinescu | Interview

We interviewed Boku’s new CEO, Stuart Neal, to discuss the current payments landscape and learn what are his top three industry predictions for 2024.


Can you give us a brief overview of what Boku does and the features that make it unique? 

Boku provides a global network of localised payments that gives both merchants and consumers real payment choice. 

Its global network of localised payment solutions, which includes Direct Carrier Billing (DCB), digital wallets, and account-to-account (A2A) connections, gives people the freedom to pay for their favourite goods and services using their preferred payment method – no matter where they are in the world. 

Boku’s customers are global merchants, including industry giants such as Amazon, Google, Meta, Microsoft, Netflix, Spotify, Tencent, and Sky. 

How would you assess Boku’s success to date – and what is your vision, as the newly appointed CEO, for its future? 

2023 has been a landmark year for Boku, in which the business celebrated several key milestones, putting it at the forefront of solving challenges in the payments space. During the first half of 2023, Boku continued to expand its network to over 300 local payment methods (LPMs) across 60 countries, and it saw rapid customer adoption – with over 32 million new consumers making their first purchase with Boku. Globally, our network reaches over 7.5 billion consumer payment accounts in more than 90 countries. 

Having served as CEO Designate for the past six months and previously being the Chief Financial Officer of Boku, I am excited to return as CEO at such a dynamic and promising time for the payments industry. 

Our mission at Boku is to empower people everywhere to be able to pay for the services they love in the way they want – and allow global merchants to seamlessly offer localised payment choices and unlock growth. I look forward to leading the phenomenal Boku team as we continue to innovate and forge new partnerships, further shaping the global network of localised payment solutions and giving both merchants and consumers real payment choice. 

What is the current payments landscape, and what key predictions do you foresee for 2024? 

It’s no secret that the mobile device has upended the way the world pays for goods and services. Boosted by the pandemic, the surge in mobile payments is rapidly supplanting both cash and plastic cards globally. But while the shift away from cash and card-based payments may be global, the proliferation and adoption of alternative payment methods is decidedly local. In North America and Europe, card-linked wallets from well-known brands like Apple Pay and Google Pay continue to allow card and debit-based payments to prevail. But in the world’s fast expanding markets (FEMs) in Asia, Africa, and South America, local non-card digital wallets are proliferating, currently totalling over 150 – and counting. In Singapore alone, an island nation of 5.5 million, consumers have over 16 mobile wallets to choose from. 

My top three predictions for 2024: 

  1. Consumers continue their shift from card-based payments to local, non-card, payment methods. Across Europe and the US, where Visa and Mastercard plastic cards have long dominated the markets, the use of digital wallets has now been ‘socialised’ and consumers from all demographics are embracing them. 

  2. A2A payments are set to become the dominant online payment method in many markets. India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and Brazil’s Pix are two examples of A2A payment systems that have seen exponential growth since they were introduced, in part because consumers enjoy a virtually friction-free user experience. Paying for goods is as easy as opening the banking app and scanning a QR code, while approving a payment is further simplified through biometrics. In India, UPI users can even instruct a payment using their voice. Businesses, too, have taken to A2A payments, which translates into a number of benefits: real-time settlement, reduced fraud and chargebacks, improved refunds, better conversions, and the potential for cheaper transactions. 

  3. Local payment methods will boost merchant digital marketing growth. As LPMs proliferate, and especially in fast-expanding markets, merchants are increasingly turning to bundling and similar types of partnerships with powerful local payment providers such as mobile network operators (MNOs), digital wallets, and super apps (Alipay) to boost their presence in local markets and drive customer growth. In short, these local payment providers are quickly becoming powerful and effective digital marketing channels that merchants cannot ignore. 


Which industry challenges does Boku solve for its customers? 

Digital wallets such as Alipay, GoPay, or Naver Pay and real-time payment schemes such as Pix and UPI are now leading payment methods in their markets, and local payment methods’ share of global online payments will continue to grow worldwide. However, managing the rising number of LPMs is no easy task. They must be vetted, have diverse APIs integrated, include the ability to analyse data, and have the capacity to adjust their availability on a per-country basis. That’s why, rather than attempt to work directly with hundreds of LPMs, the world’s biggest merchants choose to integrate and manage their LPM integrations using Boku’s dynamic platform. 

By recognising and respecting regional payment preferences, companies are not just ensuring transaction growth, but also forging lasting relationships with their consumer base – a win-win in an otherwise challenging market. 

Have you seen hesitation amongst customers to move away from traditional payment practices? 

On the contrary, we have witnessed rapid customer adoption. For example, in Brazil, Pix transfers, embraced by both consumers and businesses, are not just replacing cash, but are even beginning to overtake plastic. For the first time since its launch, Pix transactions made in the first quarter of 2023 (8.1 million) have surpassed those made with credit cards (4.2 million) and debit cards (3.8 million) combined, according to Brazil’s Central Bank

Offering LPMs has a number of advantages for merchants. First and foremost, there’s the trust factor. By allowing consumers to pay through methods that are commonly used in their region, global merchants can present a local, familiar transaction choice that shows their commitment to customers’ preferences. 

In parts of the world that may be sceptical of credit cards or have limited access to them, options such as instant bank transfers (real-time payments) or the use of mobile wallets can make a world of difference in mitigating security concerns or facilitating the inclusion of new users. Indeed, not every potential client has access to a credit card, especially when it comes to younger demographics in emerging economies. By integrating local methods, merchants can address a larger, more diverse customer base, whose affinity to plastic cards is non-existent. 

About Stuart Neal 

Stuart is an international C-level executive with a proven track record in running and advising fintech and mobile technology businesses – from VC-backed startups to enterprise companies. Neal brings more than 20 years of payments, banking, and innovation leadership experience to Boku. He previously served as Boku’s Chief Financial Officer between 2011 and 2014 and between 2017 and 2019, seeing the company through soaring demand and its IPO. Neal returned to Boku in 2022 as Chief Business Officer of Boku’s Identity Division, when he led the division’s acquisition by Twilio. Neal re-joined Boku as CEO Designate in July 2023 after Jon Prideaux announced his plans to retire. During his career, Neal has also held several senior positions within many leading organisations, including Barclaycard, Featurespace, VocaLink, GlaxoSmithKline, and Virgin Media. 

About Boku Inc. 

Boku helps people pay the way they want to by building a global network of localised payment solutions, including digital wallets, direct carrier billing, and account-to-account/real-time payments schemes. Boku’s global payments network now includes over 300 local payment methods worldwide, reaching more than 7.5 billion consumer payment accounts in over 90 countries. Boku works with the world’s largest merchants, including Amazon, Google, Spotify, Meta, Microsoft, Netflix, Tencent, and Sky, helping them to grow their businesses in every corner of the globe. 

Boku Inc. was incorporated in 2008 and is headquartered in London, UK, with offices in the US, India, Brazil, China, Estonia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, and Vietnam. To learn more about Boku, please visit our website at


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Keywords: online payments, digital wallet, account-to-account payment, direct carrier billing, merchants, mobile payments, payment methods, UPI, PIX, QR code, local payment method, real-time payments
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Companies: Boku
Countries: World
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce


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