The New Normal – A Shift to a Digital World

21 April 2020
Carrier Billing

Mobile payments are being used more frequently to purchase everything from essentials to entertainment during the Coronavirus outbreak, with many people turning to delivery services to bring necessities to their door.

As people aim stay to connected, work from home, purchase essentials and keep entertained, there has been a shift in consumer spend and behaviour.

Lockdown Trends:              

Social Media                          

  • Consumers are turning to social media apps to be entertained and to stay connected with each other, taking the isolation out of social distancing
  • Globally, 40% of consumers spent longer on messaging services and social media in March, with 60% of Italians spending longer on messaging services
  • TikTok – In 2019, 8 of every 10 minutes in TikTok came from users in China, with 68 billion hours of time spent on the app worldwide. The first week of March saw users in China spending over 3 billion hours in the app, up 130% from the weekly average in 2019

Health & Fitness

  • Globally, consumers spent a record 113 Million hours in health and fitness apps during the week of March 22, 2020. With gyms closing and a lot of people choosing to exercise indoors, as well as turning to mindfulness and meditation
  • The average weekly hours spent in health and fitness apps have seen huge growth from January – even when considering that January is a month of high growth with New Year’s resolutions
  • Fitness apps – Italy, France and Spain have seen some of the strictest lockdown protocols – Italy alone has had 105% growth in downloads, 85% in current spend
  • 8 out of 10 fitness apps in the breakout list included “at home” or “home workouts” as keywords in their app store optimization strategy, with apps like Peloton updating its app store name to “Peloton — at home fitness” to capture growing interest


  • While remote learning is not a new thing, with school and university closures, the population are relying more than ever on a digital-first education process, connecting to online curriculums and portals
  • Education downloads in the peak week in March, increased by 90% compared to the weekly average of Q4 2019, with time spent on apps like Google Classroom


  • According to research by App Annie, a surge in weekly hours spent in business apps can be assigned to workers turning to mobile apps to communicate, collaborate and teleconference while they to work from home
  • In China, February 2020 saw twice as many downloads as 2019
  • In Italy, March 2020 had 761,000 downloads of business apps, marking the best week ever for this category (up 135% from the average weekly level)
  • Conference call apps like Zoom & Microsoft Teams are popular – Zoom alone was downloaded 13m times around the world on 23 March, the day the lockdown was announced in the UK (up from 56,000 a day two months earlier)

Mobile Gaming

  • Game downloads in March grew 30% from Q4 2019 as “people on lockdown look for more ways to stay entertained at home”
  • The Gaming category in app stores is growing, accounting for 55% of all the downloads on Google Play and 65% of all the installs on Apple’s App Store

Food Delivery

  • Apps such as Instacart, Amazon Prime now and Shipt have seen an increase in downloads
  • Ocado had so much success recently they even had to suspend their app for a while. Evidently, it is not just consumer behaviour that is changing here. Supply chains are also required to shift to support demand for online shopping


  • Consumers are expanding the catalogue of content they have available to them, with 51% worldwide watching more shows/films on streaming services (e.g. Netflix)
  • On the first day of its launch in Europe on March 24th, Disney Plus generated around 5 million downloads across the 7 new European markets (including the United Kingdom and Germany)

What Does This Mean for the Mobile Payments Industry?

With more and more people spending increasing amounts of time on mobile and app downloads seeing huge growth, the question is, now that consumers have changed their habits and found their ‘New Normal’ online, will things ever go back to how they were before?

It is now more important than ever for apps, businesses and sectors to be quick to adapt. Making payments easier, more seamless and secure for consumers worldwide.

Carrier billing makes paying easy through 2-click payment experiences, offering customers a simple payment solution with added security. Get in touch with SLA Digital today to find out more.

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