Despite what you may have heard, cashiers won’t be asking “Bitcoin or mobile phone?” anytime soon. Even as digital options like mobile wallets and cryptocurrency become part of our vernacular, cash is far from extinction.
According to our September 2016 Currency Usage Survey†, 74.4% of American millennials WU surveyed use cash on a weekly basis.
Not only are cash and cards the most commonly used methods of payment, they’re also the preferred methods of payment for more than 90% of respondents. Amongst these traditional forms of payment, debit cards are favored, but 81.8% of respondents use at least two different payment methods each month.
People’s preferences boil down to several factors. More than 30% of respondents cited convenience and availability as their first priority, but many also expressed concerns over safety and security. The ability to track spending and avoid fees are also important, which cash and debit cards both offer.
Consumers may be holding on to what they know because traditional payments are familiar and ubiquitous and new technologies like P2P apps and Bitcoin take time to learn and are not widely accepted. In fact, 57.3% of respondents have never used new payment technologies to make a financial transaction.
Despite low overall adoption, millennials are 68% more likely to try new payment tech than people older than 35, so we can expect adoption to grow in coming years. And while younger respondents are experimenting with these emerging technologies more, 18-24 year-olds also prefer using cash and debit cards more than any other group, so traditional payments are not being replaced.
As Western Union president and CEO Hikmet Ersek said, “People still want cash…It will take years to change that behavior, it won’t change in two years.”
†Results are based on a survey conducted on the Google Consumer Surveys publisher network on September 1-8, 2016, with a random sample of 2,243 Internet users, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The final survey results are weighted to provide a representative sample of the U.S. population regardless of age, gender, region and other demographic factors.