The Payments Journey Starts with the Consumer

The Payments Journey Starts with the Consumer
Jonathon Gould Regional Managing Director and Head of Global Acceptance, Asia Pacific Discover Financial Services
May 6, 2021

The speed of change we are witnessing around the world has never been greater or more exciting. It is taking place in every region of the globe and in every industry—with the Asia Pacific region and payments being no exception.

The many advances that are occurring on what seems a daily basis are delivering previously unthinkable flexibility and speed across all borders. At Discover® Global Network, we see the opportunities and recognize the challenges. We know the most important work we do is to strive to meet our customers’ needs and protect their security while ensuring seamless payment experiences throughout the world.


The past year has delivered a difficult time for every region of the world. There is no doubt that Asia has confronted its own share of challenges and has a perspective that sees the world through a different lens than that of the U.S. or Europe. Social structures and demographics, economies and businesses, governments and regulations help shape both broad expectations and particular local trends of consumers and merchants.

Spending and savings habits, the preference for cash or credit, the levels of banked and unbanked populations vary greatly among regions and countries within regions. The regulatory stance is equally diverse. Some governments take a more open approach to fintech and financial services. Others are more conservative, depending on the direction local officials want consumers and the industry to move.

At Discover® Global Network, the impact of these differences has created exciting times here in Asia. For example, the trajectory of growth of the so-called super apps in this region differs greatly from other regions. They also have developed differently country to country depending on the local economic infrastructure and consumer base. While these single apps that incorporate payments with social media, shopping, and other functions are an unstoppable wave, they will not grow uniformly throughout the world. But it points to something larger on the horizon.


The recent impact of COVID-19 had a dramatic effect on pushing these trends to even faster adoption. In the APAC region, the use of contactless payments was already widespread. Super apps, using QR codes to communicate between merchant and consumer, dominate in many markets. The ability to pay with contactless cards, mobile phones or even wearables, enabled by the Discover EMV-compliant D-PAS solution, had also been adopted broadly.

The surge of COVID-19 dramatically furthered this shift away from in-store shopping to contactless and card-not-present transactions. One survey from 451 Research last year found that 82 percent of consumers shifted at least some of their in-store spending online after the pandemic hit. The acceleration of this trend was seen throughout the world, and the APAC region was no exception.

Much of the push for these digital-based payment methods has also been driven by two factors: demographic changes and government/regulatory actions. Never before have we witnessed generations entering the payment ecosystem that expects—in fact, demands—that everything be available at their fingertips in an app, a phone, a tablet, a wearable, or whatever device will be created tomorrow. Despite the prevalence of contactless throughout the world, for example, nearly two-thirds of global consumers said they wished even more places accepted contactless options, according to 451 Research. This desire for greater convenience and a seamless integration of all those things will only continue and become more ubiquitous.

Governments throughout Asia are encouraging the deepening of financial relationships into the lower socioeconomic sectors, be it through financial inclusion programs or development and encouragement of domestic networks. Both have the benefit of bringing more people into the payment ecosystem and exposing them to opportunities to buy and sell outside of their local community.


What is paramount for the network side of the industry is to remain focused on innovation and entrepreneurship. We are not in the business of merely competing with other technology companies for new capabilities. Instead, each of us shares a goal to ensure that the fundamentals of payments remain reliable, transparent and secure so consumers and merchants feel safe and confident. As an industry, we are uniquely positioned to deliver on this promise, in line with the rules, regulations and technology that constantly adapt to the many new pressures.

At Discover® Global Network, our responsibility—and our mission—are to deliver a technology platform focused on security, reliability, innovation and the seamless integration of a variety of global payment forms and factors. In this way, we support super apps, payment apps, and all payment transactions in their ability to remain frictionless for consumers while ensuring a risk level that allows the free flow of commerce and the safety of the payment ecosystem.

We have achieved this to date through a series of advances, technical achievements and close working relationships with our global partners. We are rapidly embracing QR codes, digital wallets, virtual cards, payment wearables, and of course, chip cards to deliver on the expectations of the world’s younger generations.

In particular, we have seen rapid growth in the application of our D-PAS product, which continues to provide the flexibility in payments that customers demand. Our 3DS solution, Discover® ProtectBuy®, delivers the added layer of security that helps protect merchants from fraudulent online activity by helping authenticate cardholders making online, card-not-present transactions. And our Secure Remote Commerce technology furthers this protection by enabling consumers in the U.S. to shop online with a simple, convenient and secure checkout experience with the help of behavioral analytics and smart authentication.

These added capabilities have been integral to accommodating the growing acceptance of contactless payments throughout the region and the world—for everything from transactions online to payments on the street, including various transit uses in urban mobility, from public transportation to the growing popularity of bike and scooter rentals.


Through these advances, we are able to provide consumers with a seamless payments experience, no matter where they are. Whether shopping in-store or online, we connect merchants, suppliers, payment service providers, and issuers who may be located in any country or continent.

That is our role at Discover® Global Network, to ensure that cardholders can make payments anywhere, anytime, with any device of their choosing, and that merchants can accept the payment choice of their customer, all the while ensuring that they can do this with ease, convenience and safety throughout their journey.

The Merchant Advisory Group

Driving positive change and innovation in the payments industry that serves the merchants interest through collaboration, education, and advocacy.