China is by far the biggest e-commerce market in the world.
Consumers spent $US1.1 trillion on online retail channels last year, 32 per cent more than the previous year and more than double the US figure. Rapid growth in mobile payments has supported this growth.
Amazon has found the Chinese market hard to crack so far, mostly because of competition from online retailers like Alibaba and JD.com. Despite more than a decade there, Amazon has less than 2 per cent market share.
Payments are a very high volume, low margin business with even the smallest changes in revenues or margins delivering significant changes in actual dollars. For this reason, Asia-Pacific payment companies face a variety of challenges.
CUP, for all its size and growth, faces internal challenges from AliPay and WeChat - in just four years they are already a third the size of CUP. The international expansion of these players will impact other competitors across Asia-Pacific, notably Visa and Mastercard.
Visa and Mastercard are small players in China and India and this strategic weakness is unlikely to be fixed any time soon. At the same time, they will need to defend their current market share across other markets.
JCB has the size and scale needed to compete, provided it can partner with other global players while American Express and Diners Club are niche T&E players with smaller volumes across the region.
The cost of retail payment systems is also a major impost on economies - estimated at 1.15 per cent of gross domestic product across Asia-Pacific.
The European Union and World Bank along with associate agencies have undertaken a comprehensive review of payments, considerable policy consultation and targeted research.
A key conclusion of all this work is completion is a key factor in creating successful payments markets.
The key catalyst for change in the payments industry will come from competition. It must be encouraged in all aspects, for consumers, businesses and institutions.
Competition is the seed to foster innovation, it drives change, lowers costs and forces decision making.
It is the most important spark in creating a better deal for consumers and businesses.
Grant Halverson is CEO of McLean Roche Consulting. He has experience as a CEO in financial services and financial technology and has been an investor in fintech.