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Australians lead the way in digital payment use - report

By Shannon Williams
Fri 27 May 2022

Australian consumers are at the forefront of mobile wallet use and adoption of digital banking tools, abandoning cash and physical payment experiences in larger numbers than the US or UK, according to a new survey from Marqeta.

Marqeta's 2022 State of Consumer Money Movement report surveyed 4,076 consumers across three continents, including more than 1,000 in Australia, and examined how consumers across the United States of America, United Kingdom and Australia want to pay, bank and shop. 

It shows that the changes in payment preferences bought on by the pandemic have become second nature to consumers globally, with Australian consumers coming out far ahead in comfort with new digital payment methods.

Reflecting a longtime shared investment by networks and retailers in contactless payments, 83% of Australians surveyed said they'd used a mobile wallet in the last year, coming in well ahead of UK (77%) and US (71%) survey respondents. 

Slightly more than two-thirds (67%) of Australians surveyed said the start of the pandemic had increased their mobile wallet use, with 95% saying their mobile wallet use had stayed the same, or increased, in the two years since. 

Some 69% of Australians surveyed said they felt comfortable enough using a mobile wallet to leave their physical wallet at home, a figure 23% higher than the amount of Americans who said the same. Australians surveyed gave mobile wallets higher marks for convenience than other survey respondents (90%) and more Australians said they could make mobile payments everywhere they wanted to (86%).   

Mobile wallet use among people surveyed was now almost twice as frequent as cash across Australia: 65% of Australians surveyed said they'd used a mobile wallet in the last week, while just 34% said they'd used cash. 

Cash use is diminishing at a more rapid rate among Australians surveyed: 43% said they used cash less than they did a year ago (compared to 28% in the US) while 36% of Australians said they were using ATMs less than the same time last year. Australians surveyed were twice as likely as Americans to say they never used cash (31% versus 15%) and two-out-of-three Australian consumers said that they could imagine a time when they don't use cash at all.

"Given its size and market, Australia has always been a great place to launch new technology, and major banks in Australia were investing in the technology for secure contactless payments well before mobile wallets started to get traction," says Duncan Currie, country manager for Australia and New Zealand, Marqeta.

"It has put Australia at the forefront of a change across the world that has been accelerated dramatically post-pandemic.

"With our survey showing that two-thirds of Australians are using their mobile wallets more post-COVID-19, it shows just how ubiquitous they are becoming and the pressure on companies to build digital and mobile-first payment experiences that match how consumers today want to interact with the economy," he says.

Not surprisingly, given high mobile wallet adoption and low cash use, Australian survey respondents had a considerably lower appetite for in-person banking experiences. 84% of Australians surveyed said that they bank with a major financial institution with a physical branch network, but were six times more likely to say they regularly used their bank app (70%) versus regularly visiting their bank branch (12%), while 43% of Australians surveyed said if all physical banks were to shut tomorrow, it would have little impact on them. Australians showed a high level of customer satisfaction with their banks, and were 56% more likely than UK or US respondents to say that they'd never changed their primary banking provider. 

Other notable findings from the Marqeta survey included:   

  • 93% of Australians surveyed said that they'd resumed shopping in person, yet 58% said the COVID-19 pandemic had changed their shopping behaviours forever.
  • 30% of Australians surveyed said they owned cryptocurrency, with more 93% saying they held it like an asset.
  • Australians surveyed had consistently lower usage rates for on demand delivery: 29% said they regularly order food or meals delivered to their home, 22% groceries, 12% alcohol, 12% convenience store items, 7% prescriptions. These frequencies were lower on every count than US or UK respondents.
     

"The pandemic had the effect of moving the future up a little faster in banking and payments than some were thinking, with an increasing number of Marqeta customers cardholders even opting for digital cards entirely and forgoing plastic completely," says Currie.

"With a low unbanked population and good infrastructure to support contactless payments, the foundation is there in Australia to support cutting-edge payment solutions," he says. 

"But companies will still need to build from flexible and modern technology to move quickly to meet this rising demand."

 

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