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Amid decline in cash use, 79% of consumers think more education is needed to help people navigate shift to digital payments

Research shows a quarter of people have never used digital payments, with one-in-five still using cash on a daily basis


Marqeta (NASDAQ: MQ), the global modern card issuing platform, has today released new research exposing the need for greater education around the benefits of digital payments, to ensure that at-risk groups are not left behind. The research shows a greater focus on inclusive product design is needed to ensure that everyone is brought along the digital journey, with 79% of respondents saying education is needed to help people reliant on cash to adopt other forms of payment.

The Marqeta commissioned survey of 2,000 UK consumers showed that 25% have yet to use digital payments – a figure that rises to almost two-thirds (63%) of people aged 65 and over. However, there are signs of change as 21% reportedly used digital payments for the first time during the last year. The pandemic has accelerated the drive to a more cashless society – four-in-ten (41%) have been refused when trying to pay with cash in the past year and 65% feel it’s becoming harder to take cash out. Amid rising adoption and enthusiasm for new innovations, 83% of respondents expressed concern that the shift to cashless could exclude the most at-risk in society, demonstrating the need to ensure no one is left behind.

“Digital payments offer several benefits for society – from lowering fraud and other financial crime, to the environmental benefits, not to mention the fact that it is much safer than carrying around cash. But to go cashless, we must educate society to show everyone how to live in a world without cash – or risk leaving the most vulnerable groups behind,” says Ian Johnson, SVP, Managing Director, Europe, Marqeta. “As an industry, and a society, we have a responsibility to support cash-only spenders to adopt digital payment options, by educating people of its benefits and through more inclusive product design, to ensure everyone can share in the benefits.”

When delving into the reasons why consumers are still using cash, the survey found:

  • Almost two-in-five (39%) surveyed consider cash a backup in case their card is lost, stolen, or fails.
  • Nearly one third (29%) surveyed believe they can keep better track of their spending with cash.
  • 17% surveyed believe that using cash decreases their risk of fraud, saying they like to use cash as they think it is more secure than digital payments.

This points towards a need for banks to ensure that they have better digital services to help consumers keep track of their spending, as well as providing secure digital wallet services to act as a backup when physical cards fail.

Despite this need for more support and education, respondents could already see the benefits of going cashless: 55% think a cashless society will make payments easier for everyone, and a further 64% think a cashless society will make criminal activity harder – for example, money laundering and tax evasion. Over half (51%) also noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has put them off handling cash due to hygiene risks.

There is also a growing appetite amongst consumers for new technology and innovation in payments. The survey showed:

  • Almost half (45%) of respondents want to ‘pay by gesture’ and have a secret signal to authenticate payments as an added layer of security instead of their PIN.
  • 57% surveyed would be comfortable using a “super app”, like China’s WeChat, to make all their payments.
  • 39% surveyed would be open to using asset tokenization to make big payments.
  • One-in-ten surveyed believe cryptocurrencies are the future and are keen to invest in them.

“Banks must ensure that the benefits of their digital offerings continue to outweigh the benefits of cash,” continues Johnson. “Providing consumers with features that help them to track their spending, as well as adding extra layers of security to minimise the risk of fraud, are critical to ease the transition to an increasingly cashless world.”