Exploring the world of digital wallets and cashless payments

It is more than likely that you, as a retail customer, have recently made a purchase using one of the big tech wallets, such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal and Samsung Pay. Popularity over the use of digital wallets is indeed growing; in 2023, digital wallets accounted for 50% of e-commerce transactions. But what does the take-up of digital wallets, and the transition to cashless payments, look like in different parts of the world?

A global snapshot of digital wallets


A 2022 survey showed that the use of digital wallets was much higher in Asia than in Europe. In fact, Asia’s market size of global digital wallets significantly dwarfs other areas. China, in particular, is seen as the world's leading country on contactless payments via smartphones, due to the prevalence of Alipay and Tenpay’s proximity mobile payments.


The majority of global cashless payments take place mostly online, while physical points of sale have been slower to change over. Europe shows greatest potential for digital payment growth at 15.1% growth between the years 2022-2027, outpacing China, the U.S., and the rest of the world. There are a number of key drivers influencing the European adoption of digital wallets, including rising consumer expectations for convenience, speed and mobile-friendly cross-border transactions. Impacts are also being made by technological advancements in wireless and NFC capabilities, as well as government initiatives promoting cashless economies.

In 2023, Sweden aimed to become the world's first cashless society, heavily utilising Swish, a mobile payment system embraced by 95% of adults. The European Council has gone one step further, recently adopting a legal framework where each member state must make a digital identity wallet available to its citizens by 2026, and accept European digital identity wallets (EDIWs) from other member states.

Africa and Middle East

In Africa and the Middle Eastern regions, the transition to digital wallets and cashless payments is gaining momentum, driven by innovative solutions and government initiatives. For instance, Morocco has made significant strides in promoting digital payments. With banking penetration at around 70% overall, but much lower in rural areas, the introduction of an interoperable mobile payment program by HPS in 2018 aimed to transition the country from a cash-dependent to a digital payment society. This initiative has seen a 300% growth in mobile payment enrollments within a year, highlighting the increasing adoption of digital wallets.

Another good example is Saudi Arabia. The push towards a cashless society is a key part of the Saudi’s Financial Sector Development Program (FSDP) aligned with Vision 2030. Saudi Payments, a subsidiary of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), partnered with HPS to launch an interoperable national mobile payments platform based on QR codes. This initiative ensures a seamless payment experience across different service providers, supporting the broader adoption of digital wallets in the kingdom.

North America

In terms of future growth in North America, use of digital wallets should double between 2020 and 2025. This is in spite of the challenges presented by the prevalent legacy credit card payment systems in place there.

Opportunity of digital wallets

As the popularity of digital wallets continues to grow, so will the offering. Customers’ expectations of convenience and security only stand to increase. Deliverance will focus on simplicity, security, affordability and accessibility.

HPS can help organisations deliver in this regard. HPS’ PowerCARD-Wallet is a solution that provides the flexibility to launch own-branded and personalised mobile payment wallets. The white-label solution can be connected to any number of internal or external payment means. PowerCARD-Wallet offers wide deployment capabilities (supporting any payer / payee mobile payment use case), instant cash-in/cash-out, and provides comprehensive customer management.

Essentially, PowerCARD-Wallet manages the entire payments ecosystem covering customers, merchants, agents, distributors and more, offering seamless integration to external systems through advanced APIs. Furthermore, combined with PowerCARD-Tokenization, the digital wallet solution from HPS can overcome any tokenised security challenges by supporting the issuance, provision, storage and management of tokens from any scheme on any type of wallet.

To discover more about HPS and PowerCARD-Wallet capabilities, please contact sales@hps-worldwide.com.