Within the U.S., it appears that usage of digital payments is growing. But is the shift away from cash reaching the people it needs to reach?
It’s apparent that Americans are reducing their reliance on cash, according to recent research from the Pew Research Center. The survey found that 29% of Americans do not use cash at all during an average week, which is up from 24% three years ago.
Usage of cashless payments methods in the U.S. still appears to be mostly driven by wealthier consumers, according to this study. Respondents with an annual household income of more than $75,000 were more than twice as likely (41%) as respondents with incomes of less than $30,000 per year (18%) to say they do not use any cash during a typical week.
The survey also found that people with lower incomes are more likely (29%) to use cash for all or almost all of their purchases throughout the week than those with higher incomes (7%). However, that number is falling for both groups. In a similar survey the Pew Center conducted in 2015, 38% of people with incomes under $30,000 per year reported that they made nearly all of their purchases in cash, compared to 10% of the higher-income group.
In some regions, such as India, the drive to increase the usage of electronic transactions is part of a broader effort by governments to increase financial inclusion – to get more unbanked and underbanked people into the formal financial system. Doing so is seen as one factor that can help reduce poverty, enabling those with lower incomes to have more access to formal financial services such as credit and savings accounts.
As PaymentFacilitator reported last week, cash continues to dominate within the Indian economy, but electronic transactions are growing significantly. The government there says it is on target to meet its goal of 30 billion electronic transactions during the current fiscal year.
And while making sure people have the means to conduct electronic transactions is one side of the equation, issuance and acceptance go hand in hand. People reducing their cash usage need to have a place to use their cards.
Research released last week by RBR found that merchant card acceptance is growing globally, with the number of outlets increasing by 13% in 2017.
In a press release announcing its findings, RBR said that efforts to increase financial inclusion will continue to drive growth. The firm predicts that the number of merchants accepting cards will grow an average of 8% per year to reach 111.7 million by the end of 2023.
“Merchants across the world are being persuaded of the benefits of accepting cards, even for low-value payments. As consumers increasingly expect to be able to pay by card, the number of outlets where they can do so will continue to grow,” said Daniel Dawson, who led the study for RBR.