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Cash is still king with U.S. shoppers


Pleasanton, Calif. -- A new survey details what methods Americans are using to pay for good and services — and which ones are gaining steam.

The study, “How America Pays in 2015: Traditional, Digital and Mobile Convergence in Payments,” by Blackhawk Network, finds that cash, checks, cards are still the most used payment methods, but select digital offerings are picking up steam.

The survey found that 93% of shoppers used cash as a payment methods over the last year, followed by debit cards and checks (both at 68%), and credit cards (67%). Sixty-seven percent used credit cards, and 62% used PayPal. In related findings:

• Forty-eight percent used retailer gift cards;

• Forty-five percent used Visa or MasterCard gift cards;

• Thirty-three percent used prepaid debit cards; and

• Fourteen percent made mobile payments on smartphones or tablets.

New payment methods are gaining momentum. Sixty-eight percent of mobile payment users report that they are using the alternative payment methods more than last year. Cash and checks saw the greatest declines in use overall.

• Gift cards’ popularity is significant: Eighty-seven percent of consumers surveyed think merchant-specific gift cards are convenient to use, even higher than bank-connected debit cards (82%).

• Additionally, gift cards are now mainstream payment methods with almost half of consumers (48%) using them in the last year.

• Mobile wallets now used by 25% of smartphone owners: What do consumers place in their mobile wallets? Sixty-four percent of users have debit cards in their mobile wallets; 58% have credit cards; and 45% have gift cards.

• Cash, cards considered most convenient payment methods; checks and bitcoin least convenient: When asked to select the most convenient payment methods, consumers selected cash (93%); credit cards (92%); PayPal (90%); and retailer-specific gift cards (87%).

• Ranking most inconvenient were bitcoin and checks.

“Consumers still have a strong preference for traditional payment methods like debit cards and prepaid cards. Those payments tools are not going away anytime soon, even as interest in and usage of new payment methods grows,” said Teri Llach, chief marketing officer at Blackhawk Network, a provider of prepaid gift cards, payments tools and rewards delivered via a convenient network. “Our findings prove that payments is not either/or when it comes to legacy payments versus emerging products; it’s really about convenience and providing a mix of options.”

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