Sorry mobile – cash and plastic are just fine

Debit, credit and good old fashioned bills are still preferred when it comes to making payments, a new study suggests.

Paper and plastic are just fine for Canadian consumers, with regular use of mobile payments remaining flat, according to a new report from Accenture.

Use of cash is down five percentage points over last year, with 63% of consumers in Canada reporting making purchases with cash at least weekly, according to the report, based on responses from just under 4,000 smartphone users in Canada and the U.S.

Use of debit and credit cards for payments at merchant locations also dropped slightly from 58% to 57% this year. On the digital side, sales are climbing, with Canadian use of PayPal up from 10% last year to 18% this year.

Seventy-one percent of Canadian consumers say they trust traditional card providers the most as their mobile payments provider, followed by alternative payments providers like PayPal (62%), established retail banks (58%) and large tech companies (54%).

Awareness of mobile payments has climbed from 40% to 49% over last year (compared with 56% for North America overall), but regular use of those services in Canada remains flat at 11%.

Among the North American consumers who haven’t used mobile payments, 37% say it’s because cash and plastic are just fine for their needs, and 21% prefer not to register payment credentials into their phone. Nearly as many (19%) say they’re concerned about unauthorized transactions.

“The existing payments system isn’t broken, which is why consumers are not making a mass-move to mobile phone payments adoption – the incentives are not there yet,” Jonathan Magder, Canadian payments lead at Accenture said in a press release on the survey findings.

“Canadian consumers expect more in today’s fast-paced digital environment; just the ability to tap-and-pay is not enough. Payments providers need to bring the traditional card to life and create a real-time interactive experience for consumers.”

Canadians do expect an increase in the use of mobile wallets from card networks (from 12% in 2016 to 20% in 2020) and major tech companies (from 7% this year to 15% in 2020).

The biggest opportunity for adoption of mobile payments will come from millennials and affluent individuals (who earn $100,000 annually after taxes), since they’re the self-reported early adopters for tech, Accenture says.

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