Voice of the Industry

Emerging market ecommerce trends and what to watch

Tuesday 6 November 2018 10:39 CET | Voice of the industry

Rossini Zumwalt and Abhishek Banerjee of Emergent Payments explain where to expect the next ecommerce revolution

Global emerging markets are looking better than ever after a strong start in 2018. Many of these markets show no signs of slowing down with rapid economic, political and financial progress across all regions.


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 behaviour, without the burden of entrenched distribution channels or legacy infrastructure for entrants to overcome.

The region has one of the fastest growing middle-class consumer 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, according to Ecobank Research. M-Pesa has been hugely successful in Kenya and we expect this to be replicated across the board for mobility payments in Africa. 2018 is going to be an instrumental year for this frontier market.


In Latin America, high levels of connectivity are fuelling rapid ecommerce growth. The region’s biggest ecommerce market – Brazil – is a global digital power within its own right. Latest trends indicate mcommerce and social media are still the best way to reach consumers. Most importantly, local payment methods are the key to success, with many consumers foregoing international credit cards in place of local credit cards, pinless debit transactions and Boletos (bank and cash).

While we expect Brazil to continue to lead the region for the foreseeable future, Argentina is the one to watch closely. The country is coming off the back of remarkably strong ecommerce and mcommerce performances.

Argentina has experienced economic unrest in recent years, but 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 to prevail and some of the cash-based methods, like Pago Facil and Rapi Pago, to give into more mobile and digital payments.


Expect an even bigger acceleration of India’s payments innovation throughout 2018. It’s been over a year since the Unified Payments Interface launched, and version 2.0 sees the release of some game-changing features, like recurring billing. 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 this to fuel 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, customer adoption and awareness campaigns. People are excited about the reduction in costs and greater inclusion.


Southeast Asians spend more time on their mobiles than any other market. On average, consumers spend 3.6 hours per day using mobile internet. Locals are tech savvy and motivated, and global technology companies are paying attention to this trend.

Major investment boosts from Chinese companies Alibaba and Tencent have paved the way for a big year in ecommerce across the region.

In particular, Indonesia is one to watch with the market primed to grow rapidly. With swift GDP growth and the fastest growing number of Internet users across the globe (We Are Social and Hootsuite), Indonesia is ripe for ecommerce.

Quick to establish itself as a mobile-first nation, it presents a unique opportunity for merchants to introduce digital platforms to further engage tech savvy and motivated 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 such as China and India.

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 willingness to pay and shop online.

About Rossini Zumwalt

Rossini has extensive experience in setting up strategy and managing operations for ecommerce payments and risk, both as a merchant and solution provider. She served as a Senior Director at Symantec and, prior to that, as Head of Global Treasury.


About Abhishek Banerjee

Abhishek has a deep background in payments and fraud prevention engineering, along with big data and analytics. Before joining Emergent Payments, Abhishek was the Head of Engineering for payments and risk at Western Union.


About Emergent Payments

A subsidiary of Emergent Technology Holdings, Emergent Payments offers a total global and local payments solution for high-growth markets. They serve as both a payment gateway and payment facilitator for digital merchants in Asia Pacific, Latin America, Africa, Middle East and Europe.

This editorial was first published in our Payment Methods Report 2018 – Innovations in the Way We Pay. The report presents the key trends and developments in global and regional payment methods by highlighting the innovation, challenges, and developments in the use of the most important payment methods across geographies and verticals.

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Keywords: Emergent Payments, Rossini Zumwalt, Abhishek Banerjee, UPI, emerging markets, Indonesia, ecommerce, Africa, LATAM, India, Souteast Asia, card, Alibaba
Countries: World