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Consumer behavior is driving the future of digital payments

How simple, personal and everyday win the race.

A recent survey of 4,000 consumers in the United States and Canada reveals that consumer preferences—and priorities—in ways to pay are changing.

Digital payments offer an alternative to cash, plastic cards and checks. While these will not disappear, there is momentum for digital payments. Consumers want simple, personal, everyday experiences, not just payments transactions. Consider five top survey trends:

  1. The evolution in ways to pay continues—with no end in sight.
    Sixty-seven percent of consumers use cash most frequently. Consumers also commonly use debit cards (59 percent), credit cards (50 percent) and less commonly, checks (16 percent).

    Consumers use PayPal Inc. (16 percent) and retail mobile payment apps (14 percent) the most among digital payments options. Consumers see themselves using traditional payment instruments less and digital payments more in 2020.

  2. Mobile payments awareness is higher than ever.
    Most consumers (52 percent) are “extremely aware” of mobile payments—up 9 percentage points since last year. However, just 18 percent of North American consumers make mobile payments regularly.

    Nineteen percent of US consumers use mobile phones regularly to make merchant payments. Thirteen percent use Apple Pay regularly for merchant payments. Accenture analysis shows that, on a usage basis, Apple Pay accounts for 68 percent of in-store US mobile phone payments.

  3. Rewards can speed mobile payments adoption.
    Seventy-nine percent of users would make more mobile payments with discount pricing and/or coupons based on past purchasing behaviors. Seventy-eight percent would increase usage if they received rewards points.

    Similar incentives appeal to non-users. More than half would make mobile payments if offered discount pricing, coupons or rewards points. Consumer interest in rewards is an opportunity for mobile payments providers to redefine how they build customer loyalty.

  4. Peer-to-peer (P2P) payments are on the move.
    Forty-six percent of consumers have used P2P payments apps to pay other individuals. With 42 percent still using checks for P2P transactions, there is opportunity to migrate more consumers to this option.

    For countries with real-time payments infrastructure, P2P real-time payments can help drive mobile payments adoption. Time will tell if US consumer interest in P2P payments will spur demand for real-time payments.

  5. Connected commerce is worth watching.
    Twenty-one percent of consumers have used a wearable as a payment device at a merchant location, which is consistent with last year’s findings. Two out of 10 survey respondents are interested in device-initiated payments.

    When asked about the benefits of using device-initiated payments, consumer responses are evenly distributed. The benefits of “purchases being made only when necessary” and “automatic purchase convenience” top the list. The impact of these payment instruments is likely to grow as compelling value propositions become clearer.

Consumer expectations are shaping the future of payments as new trends evolve and emerge. To win in digital payments, providers must keep it simple, make it personal and ensure that payment methods are seamlessly integrated into everyday life.

Learn more in our full 2015 North America Consumer Digital Payments Survey: When it comes to payments today, the customer rules