Mobile Payment Usage Continues to Climb

Ever since the age of smartphones started in the early 2010’s, phones have advanced in features and are quickly changing people’s lifestyles. Now, smartphone users don’t even need to take their wallets out in order to make a purchase—all they need is a simple scan of the phone screen to pay a bill. This has become an even more necessary activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the CDC recommends maintaining distance and frequent hand washing so as not to spread the virus through touch. According to the latest data from the 2020 National Technology Readiness Survey by Rockbridge Associates, more than four in ten (42%) smartphone users currently use a mobile payment service such as ApplePay or AndroidPay. The percentage of the mobile payment users has doubled since 2016 (22%).

Use of mobile payment services correlates strongly with age; younger adults (18-34) are significantly more likely than their older counterparts (35+) to currently use a mobile payment service. In fact, at least seven in ten adults aged 18-34 use a mobile payment service, compared to fewer than one in five (17%) adults aged 65 or older. The most used mobile payment services are PayPal, Apple Pay, and Amazon Pay.

Frequency of use of mobile payment services varies by age but more than half of total users (53%) use mobile payments at least half the time when making a store purchase. Frequency of use has increased directionally since 2016 (when 46% used mobile payments at least half the time), and this trend may accelerate as businesses invest in implementing mobile payment capabilities to attract and keep customers wary of contact.

The use of mobile payment services by consumers has grown rapidly in the past few years, and benefits both businesses and consumers. Its efficiency fulfills the needs of both types of users by allowing quicker, more convenient, and more secure purchases. Mobile payment services also meet the new need for safe and hygienic purchasing. Continuous advancement of mobile payment systems will likely keep boosting use, and frequency of use will also increase as businesses invest to adapt to the new normal.

About the Study: The National Technology Readiness Survey is conducted by Rockbridge Associates, Inc. and A. Parasuraman, and has tracked technology and e-commerce trends since 1999. The survey is co-sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Service at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. The most recent wave was conducted in March 2020 and is based on an online survey of 1216 U.S. adults sampled at random from a consumer research panel. A total of 561 consumers who have a relationship with a financial institution were asked about their banking behaviors and attitudes.  Results are weighted to match census characteristics.  The margin of error on the findings reported here among consumers with a financial institution relationship is plus or minus 4 percentage points. 214 consumers use a mobile payment system, and the margin of error on the findings reported here among these consumers is plus or minus 6 percentage points.

Written by: Hilary Ross-Rojas, Research Director