As consumers worldwide become more comfortable using money transfer apps in their day-to-day lives, the expectation is growing that account-to-account (A2A) payments can be used anywhere and for anything.
For online purchases, travel or sending money cross-border, cardholders want to move money simply and easily with a push of a button. Indeed, all indications suggest these growing money transfer options will represent an increasing share of transactions going forward thanks to improvements in access and security. In all, the value of digital domestic money transfer payments is expected to hit $3.4 trillion throughout the world in 2025 as the volume of payments is expected to exceed 300 billion by 2026.1 As the trend grows, merchants are wellpositioned to benefit from these speedy A2A settlements and potentially lower fees. But while the volume of money transfers increases, merchants and consumers across all markets still deal with challenges and inconsistencies in how their transactions are executed.
Here are seven key considerations for merchants that are exploring the world of today’s money transfers.
1. What’s driving recent growth in money transfers?
As they become more familiar with its convenience, consumers around the world are choosing to use peer-to-peer (P2P) payment platforms, often instead of cash or cards. These platforms, performing A2A payments, eliminate the need to anticipate and supply cash-on-hand requirements for both consumers and merchants.
For merchants, A2A payments can often cut down on transaction costs and the risks involved with handling cash. Increased digitization of money transfer services is a big driver of growth, improving access and convenience and reducing fees. Payment apps like PayPal, Google Pay, Alipay in China, PhonePe in India, and Cash App in the U.S. and U.K. are popular around the world. These five apps alone represented over 187 million downloads in 2021.2
This trend is evident for in-country transactions, and increasingly, to fund cross-border purchases and remittances.
2. What are the key markets for money transfer?
North America claims the largest share of the global remittance market, in particular, and accounts for over 25% of global revenue.3 This makes it a major market for money transfer services more broadly.
Developing countries in the Asia-Pacific market are expected to fuel growth in that region, as both cross-border purchases and travel are prevalent while remittances in South Asia were the highest of any global region, growing 6.9 percent to $157 billion in 2021, according to a report from the World Bank.4
In Africa, where many consumers rely exclusively on mobile banking, greater awareness of money transfer will fuel growth in the coming years.
Europe’s market for money transfer is well established, with many players that serve and compete across nearly every country in Europe.
3. Who’s using money transfer services and why?
While consumers have long used conventional bank transfers to make certain types of payments both domestically and across borders, P2P platforms are attracting users who seek greater convenience and flexibility.
In Europe, a June 2022 survey found that 46% of consumers had made an instant bank transfer in the previous three months, and 81% say they are “likely” to make an A2A payment in the future.5 Many of these consumers favored a bank transfer for sending money to family and friends, though less so for paying for purchases online or in-store.
In the APAC region, not only are WeChat Pay and Alipay the top payment apps there, they are also the largest in the world. Alipay, with 1.3 billion users, and WeChat Pay, with 900 million users, dominate the digital wallet and mobile money transfer market in China and beyond.6 In recent years, these apps have increasingly expanded internationally to connect payments with customers inside and outside of China.
In 2019, 71% of U.S. adults said they had used a P2P payment platform, with 24% of those surveyed indicating they used such platforms frequently.7 The same survey found that younger adults are more likely than older adults to use these payment platforms.
4. What are some common pain points that come with money transfers?
Historically, money transfers have been hindered by long settlement periods, high transaction costs, limited accessibility and lack of transparency. They required a chain of mediators, additional paperwork and charges that surfaced late in the transaction. The pyramid of fees assigned to the end-consumer might end up costing as much as 12% of the total transfer amount.8
Fraud also creates friction, as money moves through various financial institutions. Until more recently, senders were not able to follow the trail, making it difficult to determine why a payment did not arrive.
As digital remittance services become more accessible, fintechs have bridged the gaps by creating point-to-point connectivity among various financial institutions to handle distribution. Merchants and consumers are increasingly gaining the benefit of faster money transfers that are more secure and affordable.
5. How can merchants adapt to take advantage of the money transfer marketplace?
As both consumer and businesses adopt A2A usage, merchants can work with their banking and payment network partners to put in place systems and procedures to improve acceptance, transparency and speed for money-transfer transactions.
To respond to shifting spending patterns that escalated during the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies found they needed new payment solutions to better serve not only consumers but also commercial clients. For example, Shanghai based payment platform iPayLinks partnered with Discover® Global Network to rebuild the payment framework between merchants and suppliers in its universal account system. The result was a payment settlement process that went from 15 days to less than half a day. Processing fees also went down significantly.
Partnerships like these are essential to help ensure smooth and fast transactions, plus the implementation of the most current fraud protections and security measures.
6. Can money transfer acceptance help merchants combat fraud?
Managing customer data securely is key to safe payment processes. A2A payments can provide security for both the merchant and customer thanks to the ability to authenticate customers for each individual payment through the app.
Because A2A payments involve fewer intermediaries, transactions can have less exposure to fraud. Encryption and access controls continue to improve, providing users additional security. A2A payment apps use a range of mechanisms to protect users, including multi-factor authentication, notifications and even facial or fingerprint recognition.
7. What role are cryptocurrencies playing in international money transfers?
Cryptocurrency, as well as other digital currencies, while not in broad use, are growing in popularity for money transfers. There is no middleman between each party in the transaction and the distributed ledger technology used in blockchain offers traceability and flexibility across platforms.
But unlike other forms of transfer, cryptocurrency transfers are irreversible, as there is no mechanism for chargebacks, and many regulators—as well as banks and payment networks—have not yet authorized the broad use of digital currency transfers. But, the use of digital currencies by some country’s central banks for use in money transfers is currently being considered.
1 Payments Cards & Mobile, April 2021. “Domestic money transfer to grow to $3.4 trillion – mobile driving growth.” Viewed 17 October 2022.
2 Insider Intelligence, August 2021. “Venmo doesn’t break the top 5 most downloaded P2P payment apps worldwide.” Viewed 7 October 2022.
3 Global Newswire, March 2022. “Global Demand of Digital Remittance Market Size & Share to Grow at a CAGR of 14.6%, Expected to Hit USD 36.54 Billion Mark by 2028 | Industry Trends & Forecast Report by Facts & Factors.” Viewed 7 October 2022.
4 The World Bank, May 2022. “Remittances to Reach $630 billion in 2022 with Record Flows into Ukraine.” Viewed 7 October 2022.
5 Open Banking Expo, June 2022. “Who Will Pay by Bank?” Viewed 7 October 2022.
6 Fintech News, September 2022. “AliPay is the most popular digital wallet in the world in 2022.” Viewed 17th October 2022.
7 AARP, April 2020. “Peer-to-Peer Payment Practices and Associated Risks: A Survey of U.S. Adults Ages 18+.”
8 Pymnts, June 2020. “How Digitization Soothes Cross-Border Payment Pain Points.” Viewed 7 October 2022.
The information provided herein is sponsored by Discover® Global Network. It is intended for informational purposes, and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.