How We Pay: Digital Payments Rise, But Cash is Still King

August 4, 2015, Written By John H. Oldshue
credit cards, checks, and cash representing various forms of payment and financial progression through history

More Americans are making digital payments but traditional payment methods are still overwhelmingly preferred, according to a new survey from Blackhawk Network.

The survey, entitled “How America Pays in 2015: Traditional, Digital and Mobile Convergence in Payments,” assessed how American shoppers currently pay for items. Cash, debit and credit cards, and checks trumped digital and mobile payment solutions.

Cash is still king. In the last year, 93% of shoppers reported using cash, while 68% said they used debit cards. Checks were also used by 68% of the respondents, and 67% used credit cards.

PayPal ranked the highest of all digital payment platforms, with 62% of respondents saying they had used this service in the past year.

One in seven respondents (14%) made a mobile payment in the past year. In fact, 68% of mobile payment users said they were using more alternative payment methods than they were a year ago. Cash and checks saw the greatest drop in use among these mobile payment users.

New developments on the mobile wallet frontier may convince more customers to switch to digital alternatives. Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, CurrentC and other options are pushing the idea of mobile payments into our lives with each passing day.

Respondents said checks and Bitcoin were the least convenient payment methods, while credit cards, cash and PayPal were the most convenient. Retailer-specific gift cards also ranked very well for convenience. 48% of those surveyed used gift cards in the past year.

“Our findings prove that payments is not either/or when it comes to legacy payments versus emerging products; it’s really about convenience and providing a mix of options,” said Teri Llach, chief marketing officer for Blackhawk Network.

The survey consisted of over 1,000 Americans in April of this year.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of August 4, 2015. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.