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Digital payments in the UK: Factors influencing customer behaviour

What drives digital payments adoption among the UK’s youth?


The opportunities for payment service providers (PSPs) with digital payment propositions are growing rapidly as the UK heads toward becoming a cashless society. This paper, based on an Accenture study of 18–24 year olds, highlights key behavioural influencers that drive the use of digital payments across the youth demographic in the UK.

For PSPs to thrive in a market where mobile phone adoption and social media usage are rapidly rising, the key to success is to gain deep insights into consumer behaviour and choices. The study reveals that PSPs require a thorough understanding of factors such as performance expectancy, trust, risk, social influence, effort expectancy and hedonic motivation that drive a consumer’s use of technology.

Young consumers are key to the future success of digital payments—in some ways, they are the ‘gatekeepers’ for the mass take-up of new technologies.

Key Findings/Analysis

The study revealed six key drivers that explain young consumers’ adoption of digital transactions, including:

  • Performance expectancy—the benefit offered by technology.

  • Trust—the willingness of the consumer to part with information during a faceless transaction.

  • Perceived risk—the risk imagined by a consumer while contemplating an online transaction.

  • Social influence—the extent to which consumers perceive those important to them approve of the technology.

  • Effort expectancy—the degree of ease associated with consumers’ use of technology.

  • Hedonic motivation—the pleasure derived from using a technology.

Based on these drivers, our findings show that:

  • Consumers are sensitive to the risks associated with digital transactions.

  • Social influence affects consumers’ trust in new digital payment services.

  • Performance is the most influential driver behind the adoption of digital payments.

  • The novelty of digital services wears off as customers becomes familiar with them.

  • Main behavioural influencers for males and females are different.

  • Consumers prefer user experience to customer service.

There is little to lose from launching digital payment propositions, and much to gain, in terms of customer engagement and, in turn, customer numbers.


Payment Service Providers can make the most of digital opportunities by embracing these important propositions:

  • Design and market propositions in a way that dissipates risk perceptions over time. PSPs should treat the customer onboarding process as complete only once the customer’s frequency of use reaches a target level.

  • Focus on the first impression; it is vital to building consumer trust. PSPs should look to create initial trust through security mechanisms such as biometrics and consumer alerts.

  • Avoid underestimating the importance of impeccable performance. PSPs must center their propositions on the benefits and performance they offer.

  • Re-engage experienced and loyal customers. To sustain stickiness through ongoing customer engagement, PSPs should leverage social media.

  • Tailor the approach to marketing, segmented by gender. PSPs could use marketing messages to engage males and females in different ways.

  • Focus on customer self-service and self-proficiency. PSPs should focus on real-time confirmation of transactions, rather than depending on call center support.