How people use mobile banking around the world

Angus Kidman 20 October 2016


Which regions are still resisting paying bills online?

I look back with horror on the time before online and mobile banking had become the new normal. Queues and passbooks still haunt my dreams occasionally. But while Australians are pretty advanced in this space, there's a lot of variation across the globe.

Research from Nielsen highlights some of the big differences. The chart below shows the percentage of the mobile-device-owning population in five regions (Asia-Pacific, Europe, Middle East/Africa, Latin America and North America), and the mobile banking activities they've done at least once in the past six months:

Asia-Pacific dominates on every single measure except one: depositing a cheque by photographing it. The dominant market for that is North America, with 15%. That's not so surprising, given that the US is so weirdly obsessed with cheques (and stupid approaches to sales tax).

What really jumps out from these figures is that Asia-Pacific countries are much more likely to pay their bills online than any other region. I can understand why that percentage is low for Middle East/Africa (30%), but the situation isn't much better in Europe, where the figure is almost the same (31%).

Regional figures conceal individual country approaches to some degree: in the UK, for example, paying via direct debit is very common, which would lower the online payment figures. Even so, it's clear that Europeans aren't paying their bills online that often. Again, sounds like a horror to me.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on

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