As consumers encounter a growing array of ways to pay – from cash and cards to mobile wallets and person-to-person (P2P) apps – a ‘new norm’ is emerging as consumers embrace a blended mix of payment options in today’s fragmented payments landscape.
The 2016 U.S. Health of Cash Study by Cardtronics (Nasdaq: CATM) finds that people are individually defining payments convenience by embracing today’s unprecedented menu of ways to pay. Cash, card, digital and mobile – consumers are using a blended mix of payment options, with 85 percent using at least two different types of payment methods each month and 55 percent using at least three.
Cash has carved a prominent place within that blended mix and consumers’ everyday lives. In fact, cash is the most commonly used form of payment in brick-and-mortar stores at 89 percent – compared with 74 percent for debit cards, 66 percent for credit cards, 18 percent for store mobile apps and 17 percent for mobile wallets. The Health of Cash Study also found that 56 percent of consumers use cash as frequently as they did one year ago, and 23 percent are using it even more frequently.
“Consumers today desire and demand more payment choices in their financial lives to make life easier on their terms,” said Jonathan Simpson-Dent, chief commercial officer for Cardtronics. “And while emerging digital and mobile payment technologies are on the rise, the pace of adoption is sensible. Cash continues to be commonly used at the point-of-sale and is the runaway choice for P2P payments, with 79 percent of consumers overall – and 73 percent of millennials – preferring to pay back friends and family with cash over P2P payment apps, which came in at 10 percent.”
Millennials: Unlikely Drivers of Cash Usage
Illuminating the ‘new norm’ are the payments practices of millennials, now the largest and most techsavvy demographic group. The study found that millennials are using all the major payment methods more frequently than they did a year ago, except checks. And despite the continued increase in the number of payment options, two-thirds (67 percent) of millennial digital payment users still use cash regularly, despite more payment methods being available today.
Cash a Part of Everyday Life – Preferred for P2P, Smaller Purchases and at Convenience Stores
Whether consumers prefer cash or another payment method usually depends on the specific occasion. Cash continues to dominate (79 percent) P2P payments in general, and in specific scenarios such as dining out with family or friends, in which case 55 percent of consumers (47 percent of millennials) still prefer to “split the bill” with cash despite the beginnings of a meaningful presence for non-bank and bank P2P payment apps (10 percent).
In general, 80 percent of people agree that they use cash for smaller items and other forms of payment for larger, more expensive items. Specifically, 72 percent of people use cash for purchases under $10 and 54 percent use cash for purchases under $20.
At convenience stores, consumers are almost twice as likely to have used cash in comparison to credit in the past six months, and 33 percent are more likely to use cash than a debit card. When it comes to impulse buys, 75 percent of items such as candy and gum – frequent convenience store purchases – are made with cash.
“One of the trend lines that reinforces the important role of cash in the everyday life of consumers is the healthy market share of cash usage at pharmacies, grocery stores and mass merchandisers such as Target and Wal-Mart,” added Simpson-Dent. “Debit is preferred in these three locations, but cash is neck and-neck with credit and remains the most commonly used form of payment in brick-and-mortar stores overall.”
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