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Is the Swipe Replacing the Cha-Ching at the Cash Register?
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Is the Swipe Replacing the Cha-Ching at the Cash Register?

For many, the answer is yes. In fact, one out of every two people around the world say their preferred payment method for daily spending is plastic rather than paper, according to Nielsen’s Global Survey of Saving and Investment Strategies. Collectively, more than half (54%) of respondents from the global survey of more than 30,000 Internet respondents in 60 countries say they prefer using plastic (credit card: 29%, debit card: 23%, or prepaid card: 2%) over cash (39%). A cashless mentality was strongest in North America (71%) and Asia-Pacific (58%), followed by those in Latin America (47%), Europe (45%) and the Middle East/Africa (35%), who use a mix of credit, debit and prepaid cards daily.

In Asia, the influence of urbanization and technology is apparent as the preference for using a card payment over cash for every-day purchasing is among the highest around the world. In the top-tier cities of China, 70 percent of respondents use cards vs. 22 percent that use cash; in Hong Kong, usage is 60 percent cards vs. 37 percent cash; and in Singapore, usage is 55 percent cards vs. 40 percent cash.

The credit card market has become more competitive as issuers attempt to drive usage of their cards for specific purposes. Nielsen’s survey data shows that 39 percent of respondents around the world use one payment card on a regular basis, 37 percent use two, 14 percent use three and 10 percent use more than three cards.

“Today’s consumers are not only drawn to card forms of payment because of convenience, but they are also drawn to benefits such as earning mileage points, gaining buyer protection and accessing merchant promotions,” said Oliver Rust, senior vice president, Global Financial Services, Nielsen. “The time is right for card issuers to use a segmented approach to developing products and promotions are more closely aligned with their spending behaviors.”

The Move to Mobile/Online

As online and smartphone penetration rates continue to grow around the world, so too is the expected acceptance of using the Internet and mobile applications to make payments. Nielsen reports that 14 percent of global respondents already use electronic payments as their second most preferred payment vehicle, with respondents in Asia-Pacific (18%) exceeding that average.

And going digital isn’t just a trend in developed markets. Consumers using electronic payments are found in developed and developing parts of the world, underscoring the broad depth and breadth of reach and willingness to go cashless. One-third of respondents in Austria say they’re already using electronic payments, followed by Germany (28%), Lithuania (27%), New Zealand (26%), Czech Republic (24%), Latvia (24%), South Africa (24%), Denmark (23%), China (22%), Poland (22%) and Slovakia (21%).

When it comes to concerns about cyber safety, more than half of global respondents (54%) have no reservations about shopping online and using their payment card on either a smartphone or tablet device as long as their personal information is protected. One in four global respondents are on the fence, saying they may use their credit or debit cards for online payment, and one-fourth (26%) say they wouldn’t use their cards on either a smart phone or tablet. Respondents in Asia-Pacific (65%) and Latin America (54%) report the highest levels confidence in using their payment cards on their smart phone or tablet device.

“Further enticement to online shopping has been made with the advancement of electronic wallet solutions that facilitate the use of cards in a virtual environment by creating secure payment channel alternatives,” said Rust. “By providing value-added services and better promotions in lieu of more competitive pricing, issuers have an opportunity to drive cardholder satisfaction and loyalty.”

For more detail and insight about payment strategies around the world, download Nielsen’s Global Payment Gateways of the Future report.
Nielsen’s Global Saving/Investing report may also be of interest.

About the Global Survey Methodology

The findings in this survey are based on respondents with online access across 60 countries. While an online survey methodology allows for tremendous scale and global reach, it provides a perspective only on the habits of existing Internet users, not total populations. In developing markets where online penetration has not reached majority potential, audiences may be younger and more affluent than the general population of that country. Additionally, survey responses are based on claimed behavior, rather than actual metered data.