April 30, 2020

Mastercard Study Finds Consumer Preferences Shift to Contactless Payment Options

Polling as part of a Mastercard study into changing consumer behavior across 19 countries shows that the preference for contactless payment options has increased in the last few months as the global pandemic continues.

During February and March, as many countries imposed necessary restrictions on social distancing, a significant majority of consumers turned to contactless card payments for necessary purchases. About 79 percent of respondents worldwide say they are now using contactless payments, citing safety and cleanliness as key drivers.

The Mastercard findings show:

  • Contactless Move to Top of Wallet – Perceptions of safety and convenience have spurred a preference for contactless cards and reminded consumers of the convenience of tapping on a global scale. Globally, nearly half of respondents (46 percent) have swapped out their top-of-wallet card for one that offers contactless – this proportion climbs to 52 percent among those under 35 years old.
  • Confidence in Contactless – The global disruption has led to increased concern from consumers on cash usage and positive perceptions towards contactless due to the peace of mind that it provides. The majority of respondents (82 percent) view contactless as the cleaner way to pay, and contactless payments are up to 10 times faster than other in-person payment methods, enabling customers to get in and out of stores faster.
  • Contactless is Here to Stay – We are in a sustained period in which consumers are making purchases in a very focused way; it’s reinforcing contactless use in markets where adoption is more mature, and it’s stimulating use in newer markets. This trend appears to be here to stay as approximately three quarters (74 percent) state they will continue to use contactless post-pandemic.

“Social distancing does not just concern people’s interactions with each other; it includes contact with publicly shared devices like point of sale terminals and checkout counters,” said Blake Rosenthal, evp and Head of Mastercard Acceptance Solutions. “Contactless offer consumers a safer, cleaner way to pay, speed at checkout and more control over physical proximity at this critical time.”

Mastercard has been spearheading the worldwide shift to contactless for years, championing the simple, safe and fast way to pay. As consumers increasingly seek out ways to quickly get in and out of stores without touching terminals, Mastercard data reveals over 40 percent growth in contactless transactions globally in the first quarter of 2020. Further, 80 percent of contactless transactions are under $25, a range that is typically dominated by cash.

While countries worldwide are at different stages of contactless deployment and usage for daily shopping habits, Mastercard’s insights on grocery and pharmacy trends – two areas where many day-to-day essentials are being purchased – showed that nearly all regions experienced significant spikes in contactless usage in February and March. Further, reinforcing changing behaviors and consumer checkout preferences, Mastercard saw the number of contactless transactions grow twice as fast as the number of non-contactless transactions globally at grocery stores and pharmacies.

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