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The Shifting Landscape of Digital Payments: US Consumers Demand Choice

In today's world, the way we manage our finances and make payments has changed significantly. Writing checks and carrying cash are no longer the norm, as digital payment methods have become the primary focus. Nowadays, consumers value payment options that provide speed, convenience, and security.

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In an age where convenience and security are paramount, the way we handle our finances and make payments has undergone a dramatic transformation. Gone are the days of writing checks and carrying wads of cash; instead, a growing number of digital payment methods have taken center stage. According to Banked’s 2023 research of US consumer payment preferences, consumers have come to expect more payment options that prioritize speed, convenience, and security, and will change their payment method based on their circumstances.

The study revealed that half of US consumers would use more than one payment method if it was available at checkout. This percentage has seen a notable increase from 43% in 2022, showcasing the growing flexibility and versatility expected from modern payment platforms. In fact, the data shows that consumers are diversifying their financial habits, with 79.2% of respondents using 2-5 payment methods monthly, a significant rise from 57% in 2022. 

This evolving trend suggests that consumers are embracing a mix of payment options to cater to various financial needs. Respondents said their preferred payment method varies depending on the transaction amount (65.4%), the type of goods/services they are paying for (56.4%), and the merchant they are shopping with (45%). For large purchases, consumers prefer credit cards, but debit cards are the top choice for paying bills.

The rise of digital wallets, money transfer apps, and pay by bank

Digital wallets and payment services like Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and PayPal are also gaining traction, with 59.6% of respondents saying they have used them in the past month. The appeal of these digital wallets lies in their ease of use and enhanced security features, making them a favored choice for a growing number of users. 

In fact, when asked about their favorite online payment method, PayPal was the second preferred method (53%), only behind debit cards (66.6%). Other preferred methods include credit cards (51.4%), Cash App (31.6%), E-Wallets (20.4%), Venmo (16.4%), and bank transfers (10%). These choices reflect the diversity of options available and the unique advantages each one offers.

In a sign of convenience becoming a greater priority, a striking 85.2% of respondents expressed that it would be useful if their bills came with a QR code that could be scanned from their phone to pay directly from their bank app. Today’s consumers desire more streamlined payment processes and reduced manual inputs. Pay by bank, a method of payment that allows consumers to pay for goods and services using their bank account directly, is also becoming more attractive as consumers resist the use of credit cards to stay out of a debt cycle, with US credit card debt topping $1 trillion earlier this year.

Security and speed continue to reign supreme

Unsurprisingly, online security and fraud protection hold significant sway when choosing a bank or payment method. A substantial 77.6% of respondents emphasized the importance of robust security measures in their financial choices, highlighting the need for trust and peace of mind. 

However, payment speed has also become a critical factor when selecting a payment method, with 64.8% of respondents stating its importance. Instant transfers and real-time payment processing are increasingly in demand, reflecting the desire for swift, hassle-free transactions in an on-the-go world. In an age where packages can be delivered the very next day, consumers expect their money moves to happen just as quickly, if not faster.

In an effort to modernize US payments infrastructure, the Federal Reserve introduced real-time payment system FedNow in July, allowing for instant payments between banks and financial institutions. It aims to enhance the speed, efficiency, and accessibility of payments, making it easier for businesses and individuals to send and receive money in a secure and timely manner.

The evolving US payments landscape

The landscape of digital payments in the US continues to evolve rapidly, driven by consumer preferences for convenience, security, and flexibility. Mobile banking apps, instant transfers, and multiple payment methods have become the norm, contributing to the rich tapestry of how Americans manage their finances in the digital age. As technology continues to advance, the world of digital payments is sure to bring even more innovation and convenience to the fingertips of consumers.

Methodology: Banked conducted qualitative research in partnership with research firm Pollfish and interviewed 500 US consumers across a variety of demographics. This survey was open only to those who had shopped online in the past month and had some level of experience banking digitally.

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