After years of lackluster responses by consumers, mobile payments are hot again — thanks in part to interest by some major innovative brands and the millennials (people born between 1980 and 1999) — who are strong supporters of the new modes of payment technology. Here’s a look at the correlation between mobile payments and millennials:
Millennials have been raised almost entirely in the Internet and digital media age. This has impacted the toys they’ve played with, and the communications norms they adopted, including blogs, online videos, email and social media. Technology isn’t just a tool one uses to navigate the world for a millennial; it is their world. They are the most digitally adapted cohort the world has seen to date; comfortable using digital tools to connect with others, find information, manage money, and make purchases. Compared to older generations, they’re also driven to new ideas and innovations; Barkley ‘s research reveals that millennials are 2 ½ times more likely to be early technology adopters than their older peers.
U.S. Census Bureau data estimates there are more than 80 million millennials, making them the largest demographic group in history. Further, they’ve got buying power. Researchers at Barkley estimate that millennials control $200 billion of direct purchasing power; they also wield influence over $500 billion in spending done by their parents and grandparents.
One of the primary benefits mobile payments offer is convenience: Payments can be conducted anywhere on a mobile device, nullifying the notion of waiting in a traditional checkout line. As adoption of mobile payments continues, the idea of carrying a physical wallet or using cash to transact will become unnecessary to millennials, who are accustomed to — and demanding of — a world that delivers nearly instant results. A study conducted by JWT revealed 44 percent of millennials surveyed would prefer to pay using their mobile phone than with cash, particularly for smaller purchases. More than half said they would be comfortable connecting their payment information to a mobile app provided by a retailer or service provider they buy from frequently. Nearly 50 percent said they’d also connect their mobile payment information to a “wearable” device, like a smart watch.
Millennials are highly motivated by knowing their actions earn them a “thumbs up” from their peers. In fact, 70 percent of the millennials Barkley studied said they’re more excited about a decision when their peers agree with it. The importance of social acceptance along with the proclivity of early adoption millennials possess will likely lead to growing levels of mobile payment usage.
Millennials have come of age when scandalous tales of Wall Street and corporate corruption dominated media headlines. Either directly or indirectly, they’ve witnessed the impacts of macroeconomic turmoil including a housing crisis and its aftermath, along with a stalled job market. They’ve seen the government “bail out” large financial institutions and banks, while they subsequently struggle to manage debt associated with college loans. JWT’s research reveals these events greatly impacted millennials and their financial preferences. Generally speaking, millennials aren’t very trusting of traditional banking systems — or the “norms” such systems have enabled for transacting, and managing money. Nearly 50 percent of millennials who took part in the JWT study said they want to use mobile payments to speed financial transactions; 45 percent want to use mobile payments to split bills with their peers, and 52 percent want mobile payments to help them track their spending.
Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, a credit card processing firm that provides it’s customers with mobile payment services. She has more than 20 years experience in the bankcard industry in direct sales, sales management and marketing.