Crypto and fintech investment firm Ark Invest has made bold predictions about digital wallets, estimating that more than half the world will soon be using at least one.
In its Jan. 31 ‘Big Ideas 2023’ research report, Ark Invest revealed that digital wallet global population penetration is currently 40%. This equates to around 3.2 billion users, the firm added.
However, the research suggests that the number of online wallet users will increase at an annual rate of 8%. The firm predicted that this will result in a global population penetration of 65% by 2030:
“Having onboarded billions of consumers and millions of merchants, digital wallets could transform the economics associated with traditional payment transactions, saving them nearly $50 billion in costs.”
It also noted that digital wallets were gaining market share in online and offline transactions. Cash is definitely in decline, accelerated by government initiatives to go digital, as recently seen in Nigeria.
Digital Wallet Growth to Continue
Ark reported that digital wallets were scaling faster than accounts at traditional financial institutions. Furthermore, U.S. digital wallet adoption rebounded in 2022, surpassing previous highs following a COVID-induced dip.
The firm estimates that U.S. digital wallet users will increase by 7% annually during the next eight years. This will be a growth of around 160 million in 2022 to more than 260 million by the end of the decade.
Furthermore, online wallets are enabling “closed-loop” ecosystems. This is where consumers and merchants can transact directly, cutting out the middleman.
“Digital wallets are onboarding millions of merchants to platforms that enable direct consumer-merchant transactions that disintermediate traditional financial institutions,” it noted.
In this closed-loop environment, wallet providers capture more value per transaction, enabling savings to be shared with merchants and consumers.
Additionally, Ark noted that closed-loop transactions could boost the margin structure of wallet providers.
It used Block Inc. (formerly Square) as an example, stating that it paid around 60% of customer transaction fees to third parties in 2022. The fees were paid for interchange, assessment, processing, and bank settlement fees. Block’s net take rate could more than double if customers transacted directly with merchants.
Closed Loop Transactions Could Top 50%
Finally, Ark predicted that these closed-loop transactions could account for over 50% of digital payments by 2030.
It used China as an example where wallets and merchants are largely internal or domestic only.
In conclusion, digital wallet growth is set to continue. Cutting out the intermediary which they facilitate is beneficial to both the consumer and merchant.
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