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International omnibus survey for Visa reveals mobile payments are on the rise

According to Visa’s 2016 Digital Payments Study, the number of European consumers regularly using mobile devices to make payments has tripled in the past year. In fact, 54% of consumers now use their smartphone, tablet or wearable to make payments for a range of activities, compared to just 18% who said they did so when the same survey was conducted last year.

The study, which assessed how more than 36,000 online consumers in 19 European countries have adopted digital payments, reveals a big shift in attitudes towards the technology. One year ago, 38% of people said they had never used a mobile device to make payments and had no plans to do so. This figure dropped to just 12% in this year’s study.

The biggest adopters

The top ten countries where mobile payments are most popular tend to fall into two camps: developing markets such as Turkey and Romania; and developed markets, particularly the always-cutting-edge Nordics.

In the UK, nearly three-quarters (74%) of the people surveyed use mobile payments, with more than half of these using their device to transfer money to friends and family (59%) and just under half using it to buy take away meals (45%).

What are they buying?

Mobile Payment users say that they are as comfortable making more expensive purchases on mobile devices as they are with everyday payments.

For example, in the UK, 43% purchase high-value items such as holidays and electronics on a mobile device as well as regular transactions such as paying household bills (42%) and buying bus or train tickets (41%).

The age of mobile banking

The findings show that mobile banking is on the rise across all age groups. Now, more than half of European respondents of all ages are using mobile banking. Millennials may be the most prolific users but other age groups are catching up fast. The highest growth rate (33%) is in the 55-64 year old category, while millennials have experienced 24% growth.

In the UK, nearly half (46%) of 55-64 year olds say they use mobile banking, compared with 39% who said they accessed online banking through an app in 2015.

According to the results, mobile banking is helping more people to stay on top of their finances, with two-fifths (41%) say they regularly check their balance online or via a banking app.

Kevin Jenkins, UK & Ireland Managing Director at Visa said:

“This data is a confirmation that the future of digital payments has arrived, with consumers across the length and breadth of the UK and Europe embracing a variety of new ways to pay. Visa sees smartphones and wearables as the beginning of a broader trend, with millions of new connected devices making it simple, safe and secure to integrate daily commerce transactions into almost any technology. In Europe, we’ve recently seen Apple Pay launched in the UK, France and Switzerland, Samsung Pay has launched in Spain and Android Pay in the UK. We’ve also seen a new era of wearable payments: smartwatches, wristbands and even clothing. It’s clear that this trend will continue to accelerate, enabling consumers to choose the connected device that fits with their lifestyle.”

Contactless is the new normal

The upward trend in digital payments coincides with wider adoption of contactless technology. Our research shows that contactless payments are now the norm across all age groups. In the UK, for example, 58% of the people surveys used contactless cards this year, up from 20% in 2015.

Across Europe, contactless users are consistently more open to embracing newer payment methods than those who don’t use contactless cards. The study reveals that contactless users are more interested in using a mobile device as a payment method in a shop (52% contactless card user vs 32% non-contactless card user), shopping via a retailer app (49% vs 31%) or using a mobile device to pay for a meal (50% vs 30%).

Jenkins adds:

“The uptake of contactless cards has made a significant impact on normalising digital payments in the minds of British consumers, regardless of age. The near-ubiquity of contactless card usage is gradually helping everyone engage with newer ways to pay, including mobile banking. Visa’s commitment to constant innovation increasingly enables people to make safe and seamless payments wherever they want and on whatever device they choose, regardless of time, place or channel.”

Populus interviewed 36,843 consumers (approximately 2,000 respondents per country) online between August and September 2016 in 19 European countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the UK.

Learn more about our International Omnibus.

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