SINGAPORE: Consumers in Asia-Pacific are rapidly embracing contactless payments as new research shows the number of unique contactless users in the region grew 49% year-on-year in 2014.

According to MasterCard, the trend is being driven by improved perceptions about security and convenience, but also a regional roll-out of mobile Point of Sale (mPOS) technology is playing an important role in developing markets.

The global payments network says it has established a series of partnerships with financial services firms in Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam which it asserts is helping small and medium-sized enterprises to expand.

"More and more, we see small businesses and mobile merchants such as insurance agents and food delivery businesses turning to mPOS solutions to help expand their customer base and sales," said Raj Dhamodharan, head of emerging payments at MasterCard Asia/Pacific.

"This in turn is helping to displace cash in the country, paving the way for a cashless society," he forecast.

Looking at the more established markets in the region, MasterCard said Australia had the highest number of contactless transactions, or "taps", in 2014.

Australians accounted for nearly two-thirds of all MasterCard in-store contactless payments, a growth rate of 45% compared with 2013.

There was also strong growth in Singapore where the number of unique contactless users more than doubled between 2013 and 2014.

Hong Kong too has witnessed strong growth, MasterCard said. Buoyed by a determined marketing push, growth of contactless transactions in the territory more than quadrupled in 2014 compared with the year before.

While the trend is expected to continue, Dhamodharan concluded: "The rapid growth in contactless and mobile payments is expected to continue given there is just so much cash that needs to be displaced in the region."

Data sourced from MasterCard; additional content by Warc staff