Alipay retains its top position in this year’s World’s Best Financial Platforms Ranking. With the rising strength of financial platforms, TABInsights has conducted a robust assessment of the leading financial platforms using a six-dimensional balanced scorecard. The scorecard assessment covers capabilities mapped across six key dimensions: customer, coverage and service scope, usage and engagement, financial performance, ecosystem, strategy and leadership

Platforms have become a key area for innovation and differentiation in the retail finance sector, whether fronted by global or regional financial technology companies, big-tech messaging, or e-commerce players.

Alipay stood out for coverage, service scope and ecosystem

Alipay, with the largest user base amongst financial platforms, offers online payment channels across 200 countries and regions. Evolving from a payment tool to an open digital platform, Alipay seamlessly integrates payment solutions, financial services, lifestyle offerings, and mini programs, providing users with a comprehensive suite of services within a unified platform. Alipay has partnered with 12,000 independent software vendors to enable merchants to access a wide range of digital services. With the launch of four million mini programs, the platform connects over 80 million merchants to more than one billion users. In August 2023, it reported 119% growth in active mini programs and 79% increase in merchant transaction value over the past year.

In addition to excelling in the ecosystem dimension, Alipay demonstrated strong performance in other areas such as coverage and service scope, as well as strategy and leadership. Alipay has led in gross transaction value (GTV), surpassing $20 billion, three times that of Apple Pay and significantly ahead of PayPal’s $1.5 billion, M-Pesa’s $0.4 billion, Paytm’s $230 million, and Wise’s $150 million. Its GTV per active user also ranks among the top performers.

Alipay has enhanced services for international visitors to China, enabling payments via the app for users with international bank cards and non-local phone numbers, and launching the updated international version of Alipay. Meanwhile, Alipay+ spans 57 markets, connecting 88 million global merchants to 1.5 billion accounts on more than 25 leading e-wallets and payment apps. This empowers travellers to securely use their home payment apps for online and offline transactions.

Apple Pay saw heightened usage with its expanded range of financial products

Apple’s financial services ecosystem, evolving since the introduction of Apple Pay in 2014, has seen continuous innovation, strategic partnerships, and a growing user base. Leveraging its unparalleled brand strength, Apple Pay has around 550 million users globally, capturing over 90% of the US digital wallet market. Apple Pay is available to millions of merchants in over 80 countries and regions, a global reach made possible through strategic alliances with more than 10,000 bank and network partners worldwide.

The expansion of its suite of financial products and services includes Apple Cash, Apple Card, and Apple Tap to Pay on iPhone. Apple’s ambitions further expanded in 2023 with the introduction of Apple Savings and Apple Pay Later. These products engage more iPhone owners with financial offerings, driving revenue. Apple is estimated to have generated $2 billion from Apple Pay transaction fees in 2022, with a transaction value per active user surpassing $20,000.

The high-yield savings account, introduced in April 2023 for Apple Card users, has amassed over $10 billion in deposits as of July 2023. The 12 million Apple Card users accrued over $1 billion in Daily Cash rewards in 2023. Apple Pay Later, Apple’s inaugural consumer lending venture, lets users split purchases into interest-free payments for eligible transactions between $75 and $1,000 on iPhone or iPad. The introduction of Apple Pay Later extended its reach beyond point-of-sale transactions, allowing users to make payments within apps and websites, solidifying its position in the e-commerce space.

GCash, Wise, and M-Pesa continue as key players within the top 10 platforms

GCash has broadened services with GCash Overseas, offering access to overseas Filipinos in six countries via international SIM cards. Approval from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas allows further expansion to 10 more countries and regions. GCash has also partnered with Visa for the new GCash Card, facilitating cashless transactions at over 100 million global merchants. Additionally, it has enhanced enterprise services, providing digital tools and marketing solutions, focusing on the digital transformation of nano, micro, small, and medium enterprises.

With a highly profitable and cash-generative business model, Wise has excelled financially. It saw 34% increase in active customers totalling 10 million in FY2023. Boasting a low customer acquisition cost, with over two-thirds joining through referrals, and leveraging multi-feature accounts, Wise achieved a remarkable 51% surge in total income in the first nine months of FY2024. Its strategic investments in expansion enhanced customer support, reducing contact rates by 16% in the first half of FY2024. Outperforming rivals like MoneyGram and Western Union in cross-border transfers, Wise’s collaborations with Swift and Australia’s New Payments Platform simplify global payments.

M-Pesa, jointly operated by Vodafone and Safaricom, remains Africa’s leading mobile money platform, serving 60 million customers and proving a vital revenue source for both entities. Since expanding into Ethiopia in August 2023, gaining 3.1 million users by December, this strategic move is set to strengthen M-Pesa’s future growth. Moreover, M-Pesa has partnered with Visa, introducing tap-to-pay physical cards, extending beyond virtual options. A collaboration with Amazon for global remittance services in February 2023 reflects ongoing efforts to broaden reach and services.