Consumers on the future of payments: Millennials to lead adoption and security is king

New research about the future of payments by American Express shows that over half (52 percent) of consumers ages 18-24 are likely to try new technology-enabled payment tools as they become available compared with 23 percent of those ages 55-65, suggesting that the fate of emerging payments clearly lies in the hands of millennials. However, all consumers agree that security is most important, with 83 percent of consumers ranking it higher than loyalty programs, benefits, fees/costs to use, user friendliness and convenience.

“Millennials will be key to the success of online and mobile payments, but above all else, the research shows that consumers want their payment tools to be safe and secure,” said Dan Schulman, President, Enterprise Growth at American Express.

The findings are from recent research commissioned by American Express, including a quantitative survey and focus groups that explored U.S. consumers’ attitudes and behaviors with current and emerging payments, such as payments made by prepaid cards, mobile phones, digital wallets, and near field communication (NFC), commonly referred to as “contactless payments.”

Security Comes First – Trust the Experts

Consumers want trusted institutions – not Internet or social media companies – to develop new payments, as 62 percent of consumers prefer financial institutions take the lead on new payment methods, rather than wireless providers and internet companies. This also might help suggest why more than three-quarters (77 percent) of consumers are not very confident that social media companies would protect their personal financial information.


75 percent of consumers are confident that financial services companies will do what is needed to protect the security of their financial information.

83 percent of consumers view security as the single most important concern for consumers when considering a new payment technology, with 62 percent saying that fees are the second most important factor.

Focus groups supported the findings that, while consumers are open to new technology like NFC, security is still top of mind. One focus group participant questioned how NFC signals were guaranteed secure, while another said, “I don’t leave my purse anywhere but I sure left my phone places… the last thing I want is a device that has my whole life on it.”

The Connected Generation

How people choose to pay varies by generation, and it is clear that young people are at the forefront in terms of technology adoption. Respondents ages 18-24 are mobile gadget enthusiasts, owning laptops, mobile gaming devices, smartphones and music players, while those over the age of 45 are less likely to own and use these on a daily basis.

In addition to being open to using new digital tools, the research showed how the attitudes of millennials differed from older generations around key issues, such as security.

Millennials (18-24) continue to be at the forefront of technology, with 86 percent owning a laptop and more than 61percent owning a smartphone.

When buying something online, 58 percent of 18-24 year olds find mobile apps somewhat or very convenient compared with only 26 percent of those between 55-65 who find mobile apps somewhat or very convenient.

Similarly, 69 percent of 55-65 year olds do not feel secure shopping on a social media site, while the same can be said for 55 percent of 18-24 year olds.

Choice is King, Checks Decline

Consumers continue to want choice (87 percent) in their payment types, often selecting a payment type based on the payment destination. The evolution in payment types continues, driven in large part by the introduction of mobile technology. Some of the key trends include:

Debit card and online payment usage saw the greatest increases over the past five years, increasing by 39 percent and 30 percent, respectively.

49 percent of respondents reported using checks “less often over the last five years,” while 27 percent of survey respondents report never using checks.

One-third (35 percent) of consumers expressed interest in trying a new option, such as digital wallets, person-to-person platforms or NFC.

Concerns around prepaid cards for many focus group participants focused on things such as the cards being ‘fee heavy’ or ‘for those with bad or no credit.’ However, 19 percent of survey respondents felt that prepaid cards could be good budgeting tools, suggesting that consumer education is needed about prepaid’s benefits and how the cards can work in consumers’ lives would be useful.

Source: American Express

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