Retail payment trends to be attentive to in 2022

Acuity Knowledge Partners
5 min readApr 25, 2022


Published on April 13, 2022 by Hiren Shamnani

The pandemic and its consequences have caused dramatic shifts in payment behaviour and triggered a wave of new payment solutions for existing applications, benefiting both the consumer and the business community.

A resurgence in investments has led to the creation of innovative solutions leveraging emerging and innovative payment technologies. Data-driven offerings have been prioritised for providing value-added propositions, and distributed ledger technology has attracted attention for use in digital currency solutions and enhancing operational efficiencies.

Retailers and merchants are integrating payments into their value chains while technology giants are upscaling their financial services game by weaving offerings around payments.

The following are the six key trends we expect will dominate the global retail payments market in 2022.

1) Real-time payments (RTP)

This form of payment is gaining significant traction among consumers globally due to immediate fund availability, convenience, ease of use, transparency and security. RTP sends real-time alerts and offers capabilities such as invoices with payments, requests for payment and account statements.

Additionally, in-built modern features such as payment support for all types of utility bills, in-app shopping and P2P payments enhance the overall value proposition of RTP. Financial institutions are exploring more use cases to pave the way for innovative and seamless payment offerings for consumers and businesses. In total, 54 countries have adopted RTP systems, and several countries have such systems under development; existing systems are being updated with innovations and interoperability for cross-border transactions.

The number of real-time transactions in 2020 was 70.3bn, up 41% from 2019, according to the ACI Worldwide and GlobalData report; the value of transactions grew 33% y/y to USD69tn in 2020. RTP accounted for 9.8% of total global electronic transactions in 2020, up from 7.6% in 2019; the share is expected to reach 17.4% by 2025. The report ranked India the highest, with 25.5bn transactions, followed by China with 15.7bn transactions.

2)Social commerce

The marriage of payments and social media is another emerging trend that businesses need to be attentive to and tap into due to the large number of users of social medial platforms and the potential payment opportunities they present. Meta has rolled out several dedicated product store functionalities and store controls on its Facebook and Instagram platforms to build a destination of brand storefronts for customers to check offerings and make purchases.

This trend has already attracted many famous and global brands to set up shop on social platforms to capitalise on the international customer base and visibility. Global sales generated via social commerce reached USD492bn in 2021, according to an Accenture report; this market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 26% and surpass USD1.2tn in value by 2025. Significant capital investment by social platforms, brands and retailers — in addition to strategic partnerships — is expected to fuel growth in this space.

3) Contactless payments

The pandemic accelerated the adoption of contactless payments and acted as an innovation catalyst: payment service providers such as Square and Adyen launched touchless payment checkout solutions where merchants present a QR code to shoppers (either via a POS terminal or in printed form) that prompts with a link to complete the payment via smartphone. PayPal introduced similar functionality in the UK, and other providers globally are expected to jump on the bandwagon.

Near-field communication (NFC) payment technology for card-based payments holds promise due to its enhanced security standards and ease of use, enabling customers to tap or wave their mobile devices to make payment.

Growth in smartphone usage, improved internet connectivity and merchant network expansion would accelerate the growth momentum of QR-based payment options and other modes of contactless payment. The number of individuals accessing the internet increased to 4.9bn in 2021 from 4.1bn in 2019, according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

4)From digital wallets to super apps

Digital wallets witnessed significant success in emerging markets such as China and India, and they seem to be transforming into payments super apps (e.g. WeChat and Paytm). Several US-based companies are embedding services such as crypto purchases, banking services, wealth management and insurance in a single app, eliminating the need for individual apps and customer accounts.

For example, Google Pay will enable its users to sign up for checking or savings accounts at traditional banks that can be managed via the app. Similarly, Square has added new features such as trading in cryptocurrencies and deposit services to its digital wallet; PayPal has announced new features such as interest-earning savings accounts, in-app shopping tools, crypto trading, direct deposits and bill payments to create an all-in-one digital wallet solution.

5) Digital currencies

Digital currencies are touted as the next evolution in the digital payments area. Simply put, a central bank-controlled digital currency would operate in a similar way to cash that can be stored and accessed digitally. Digital currencies would accelerate financial inclusion and fix flaws in existing payment infrastructure.

China has already rolled out a digital version of its currency — e-renminbi — so merchants and consumers can transact without an internet connection, credit card or bank account. Sweden joined the club by launching its digital currency (eKrona) in September 2021. Countries such as South Korea, Australia, Singapore and India also plan to join and are taking the necessary steps to speed up the launch of digital currencies.

6) Buy-now-pay-later (BNPL)

The BNPL payment option, referred to as a short-term credit product with no fees and interest charges, has spread fast, globally. Its increasing adoption by merchants around the world is due to its ability to offer instalment products to consumers underserved by traditional financial institutions. Its rising popularity among consumers can be attributed to the simple and transparent pricing models, convenience and ease of use it offers (no credit history or other proof needed).

The BNPL option offers access to credit in a decentralised, democratic and inclusive way, opening up a market so far dominated by global credit card network providers and traditional financial institutions. This new fintech vertical witnessed big-ticket acquisitions across the globe when fintechs and traditional financial institutions invested significant capital to strengthen their foothold; for instance, Square took over Afterpay for USD29bn, and PayPal acquired Paidy for USD2.7bn. Companies have also collaborated (e.g. Klarna-Stripe and Amazon-Affirm) to benefit from each other’s expertise and geographical reach; this would help in cross-pollination and accelerate business growth.

In this era of digitalisation, customer preferences are evolving rapidly, and technologies are becoming obsolete at an unprecedented pace. It has become mandatory for companies to innovate and invest in new payment solutions to remain relevant and gain a bigger pie of the volume and value of customer payments. Governments and payment bodies/regulators are building the necessary regulatory frameworks to monitor the evolving payment technology, combat fraud and safeguard user interests.

How Acuity Knowledge Partners can help

We support a number of financial institutions and global banks on their digital transformation journey. Our unique approach, combining process, people and technology, helps deliver faster results and drives excellence for our clients. A number of them leverage our proprietary suite of business excellence tools and offerings to unlock new levers of business growth and unmatched returns on investment.

About the Author

Hiren Shamnani has over 8 years of experience working in business strategy and consulting domain. Currently, supports global fintech companies in realizing their strategic goals such as market entry, growth strategy, product planning and expansion, competitive intelligence, and many more. He is also responsible for regular client engagement, team management, and quality checks. Prior to joining Acuity Knowledge Partners, he worked with KPMG Global Services and The Smart Cube for a combined tenure of ~5 years. He holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration in Marketing.

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