SINGAPORE: Consumers in Asia-Pacific have a high level of awareness about digital wallets and similar payment methods, but the majority (57%) still prefer to use cash, according to a new survey of seven regional markets.

PayPal, the online payments company, polled 4,000 consumers across China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand for its Digital Payments: Thinking Beyond Transactions study.

It found wide differences across the markets surveyed, but overall just 12% of consumers said they frequently used digital wallets to make payments, CNBC reported.

In addition to the 57% who cited cash as their preferred payment method, another 24% said they preferred to use other options, such as traditional bank transfers, internet banking or credit and debit cards.

Looking at the individual markets, PayPal found that only a quarter (25%) of consumers in China said they still preferred using cash for transactions, whereas this rose to more than 70% in India, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Even in the financial centres of Hong Kong and Singapore, cash was still preferred by 44% and 43% of consumers respectively.

However, nearly half of respondents in the region said they were familiar with digital wallets, while 23% said they knew about contactless payments either via credit or debit cards or mobile phones.

Speaking to CNBC, Rohan Mahadevan, APAC SVP at PayPal, highlighted three main reasons to explain the gap between awareness of digital payments and their uptake.

He said there was too little information because many consumers do not have a clear understanding of what each payment option entails and what kind of value it can provide.

Consumers also can be put off by thinking digital wallets and other online payment methods are too complicated to set up and – as ever – privacy and concerns about how their financial details are used remain a priority.

“There's a lot of awareness of digital wallets, but engagement is much, much lower and there's a big gap,” Mahadevan said. “When anybody has a lack of information, they are typically scared about it and they don't want to go and address it.”

He added that governments and private sector providers should embark on a collective effort to educate consumers, while taking steps to ensure that digital wallets are safe, secure and easy to use.

Data sourced from CNBC; additional content by WARC staff