NAPLES, FL: The worldwide popularity of mobile payments has soared since Apple Pay launched in 2014, according to a new survey, which also predicts that the adoption of mobile wallets has reached a tipping point in some markets.

Based on responses from more than 6,000 consumers across 20 countries in three global regions, payments company ACI Worldwide found that Asia and Latin America are leading the way with the technology, yet consumers in the US and Europe are increasingly embracing the trend.

According to the findings, more than half (56%) of consumers in India say they regularly make payments with their smartphone, while Thais and Indonesians record 51% and 47% respectively.

Just 6% of US consumers regularly used their mobile devices to make payments in 2014, when ACI Worldwide carried out its last survey, but this has now almost tripled to 17% of Americans.

Consumers in Europe are also beginning to catch up with their Asian counterparts and the survey found that a quarter (25%) of Spanish consumers now regularly use mobile wallets. There are similar proportions in Italy (24%) and Sweden (23%), although the UK lags behind on 14%.

“Mobile wallets really started to grow in popularity after the launch of Apple Pay almost three years ago,” said Mark Ranta, Head of Digital Banking Solutions at ACI Worldwide.

“What we are seeing is a tipping point regarding adoption, which can be attributed to consumers worldwide now almost exclusively using payment-enabled devices, as older models have cycled out, with a few exceptions,” he added.

The survey also revealed that consumer confidence regarding mobile wallet security remains high. In the UK, 37% of respondents say they trust their bank to protect their personal information when paying via smartphones, rising to 40% in France.

However, the ACI report warned that some of this confidence might be misplaced because greater adoption may make mobile wallets a bigger target for criminals.

Looking to the future of the industry, ACI’s Ranta forecast that “the rollout of immediate payments schemes worldwide, combined with new regulation in Europe coming into effect in early 2018, will only increase the importance of mobile payments”.

“This will open the door for a range of new players in the payments market and we may see mobile becoming the new plastic sooner than we thought,” he said.

Data sourced from ACI Worldwide; additional content by WARC staff