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5 Key Findings From the Mastercard Global State of Pay Report

5 min read • Dec 23, 2020 • Derek Miller

In October 2020, Mastercard, in partnership with Yonder Consulting, released its annual Global State of Pay report. The credit company surveyed 14,000 consumers across 14 countries to get a pulse on how they shop and what they look for in banking and paying. The company also surveyed 2,800 small-to-medium business owners to understand their relationships with modern payment trends.  

As you might imagine, 2020 was unlike any other previous year for Mastercard’s Global State of Pay report. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed how people shop, and many consumers (and much fewer business owners) are still figuring out which trends are temporary and which are here to stay. 

Check out these 5 findings that caught our attention and could have notable impacts on business owners heading into 2021.

1. There Was a Major Increase in Mobile Banking This Year

There’s been a large push by banks for increased mobile use over the past decade. Large financial institutions like Bank of America have debuted chatbots (Bank of America has a personalized digital assistant named Erica), while smaller banks and credit unions have improved their online experiences for easier money management. The pandemic created a much-needed wave to bring the online banking laggards into the digital age.

The Mastercard survey found that 96% of respondents performed personal banking activities online this year. This is impressive—but will these behaviors remain? 

According to the report, 87% of people who hadn’t used banking apps before the pandemic agreed that they would continue to use them in the future, and 66% said they would be more likely to consider other digital payment options. These data points signal major changes in consumer behavior that should last for years to come. 

2. More Customers Used Contactless Payments When Shopping Outside of the Home 

The COVID-19 pandemic ushered in an era of contactless everything. Restaurants offered contactless delivery while stores set up contactless pickup with items placed in customers’ trunks. It’s no wonder that the already-growing contactless payment solutions also benefited in 2020.

According to Mastercard, 61% of people say that they’re making more contactless payments now than they were before the pandemic. Over half (56%) of respondents say that they’d make more contactless payments if there weren’t any limits per transaction. 

To get an idea of how widely used contactless payment is right now, Mastercard compared this year’s data with the results of last year’s survey. In the UK, the use of contactless payments almost doubled from 34% in 2019 to 64% in 2020. People used contactless payments for smaller purchases, most below £30.

Contactless payments are viewed as safer because customers aren’t touching the same keypads that so many people before them also touched. In response to customer demand and the need for increased sanitary measures, more businesses implemented contactless options in their stores. The Florida-based grocery chain Publix made headlines for offering Google and Apple Pay shortly after the pandemic began. 

3. There’s Growing Curiosity for New Payment Technologies

Mastercard also looked at what it took for customers to feel safe trying new technologies and wondered what would make them step out of their comfort zones to explore something new. 

A staggering 81% of respondents agreed that they’d be interested in new services as long as they’re proven to be secure, while 78% said that they’d try the technologies as long as they made their lives easier.

These data points seem to echo the importance of safety and convenience when it comes to adopting new business technologies. As long as future payment solutions hit on those 2 points, we should see a wave of new technologies for small businesses across the country.

4. Customers Still Want the Option for Cash Payments

While some people are rushing to make contactless payments and other digital check-out options their new normal, other consumers are hanging onto old habits, still preferring to use cash for most of their payments. 

Mastercard found that 64% of respondents like to have the option to pay with cash whenever they want, even though 53% of respondents agree that cash isn’t as fast or hassle-free as other payment methods. And 35% of those surveyed said that they sometimes feel unsafe paying with cash—with 25% feeling less in control, too.

This is an interesting aspect of consumer behavior that might not change after the pandemic. While many people are becoming comfortable using digital payments, they also want the option for cash payments.

The takeaway here is that consumers value options—even if they only intend to use 1 of the solutions. By and large, consumers appreciate and understand the benefits of digital pay, but having the option for cash payments is still valued. 

5. People Are Still Concerned About Security

A reason why technological adoption might be slower: the security risks that come with digital payments. It’s not that people don’t know how something like Apple Pay works, but rather they know that cash is unhackable and feel comfortable using known forms of banking and payments. 

The survey found that 74% of respondents are worried about falling victim to financial fraud, while 16% have been the victim of fraud in the past 12 months. 

When asked about receiving fraudulent messages, 37% of respondents said that they’ve been receiving more now than they did before the pandemic. These findings indicate consumer fear and concern surrounding personal security with new technologies.

What Can You Learn From These Insights? 

While you might be eager to try out new technologies and mobile payment solutions, your customers should dictate how you approach payments moving forward. You can offer options for your audience, but shoppers in some industries still prefer cash or are just now getting the hang of mobile payments. To win them over, learn what your target audience can handle and what they look for when shopping with your business.

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Derek Miller

Derek Miller is the CMO of Smack Apparel, the content guru at Great.com, the co-founder of Lofty Llama, and a marketing consultant for small businesses. He specializes in entrepreneurship, small business, and digital marketing, and his work has been featured in sites like Entrepreneur, GoDaddy, Score.org, and StartupCamp.