Health of Cash Study - A Reality Check on Cash in a Digital World

With phrases like ‘Venmo me’, ‘mobile order & pay’, ‘conversational commerce’ and ‘digital native’ now well-established in today’s vernacular – diagnosing the health of cash in the United States in the digital age has become quite fashionable, even if not always fact-based.

Even as some shock-value headlines and payments industry narratives blur the line between consumer behavior research and content marketing, while also seemingly trying to hasten arrival of a cashless society, it is completely legitimate to ask probing questions about the prospects for cash. And it is reasonable to assume that as smartphone and digital payment technology evolves, consumer payment behavior will do likewise.

Does cash remain relevant for American consumers in 2017? What do the usage stats say?
Are consumers pining for a cashless society? Or do they prefer a mix of digital and analog?
Just how resilient and critical is cash in our daily lives? Again, what does actual consumer payment behavior say?

Answers to those and other questions are imminent, with the planned release of the U.S. edition of the 2017 Health of Cash Study next week.

This summer, Cardtronics partnered with Edelman Intelligence, an independent market research company, to conduct the 2017 Health of Cash Study, based on a nationally representative survey of 1,000 U.S. adults. Now in its third year, the Health of Cash research program is an annual examination of what’s happening with consumer payments behavior. As the underlying survey measures actual consumer behavior rather than opinions or theories about the future of currency, the Health of Cash Study has become a true indicator of how Americans are choosing and using cash, cards, digital and mobile.

Last year’s Health of Cash Study found a new norm associated with the digital revolution in America, but it wasn’t cashless. Rather it was shaping up to be an increasingly diverse payments community. Indeed, the 2016 report found consumers embracing a blended mix of payment options from the ever-expanding menu of payment mechanisms.

With mobile wallets, store-specific apps and mobile order & pay making digital payments increasingly accessible for consumers, digital payments usage is growing, most notably in person-to-person payments. And yet, the 2017 Health of Cash Study will show that there are many instances where cash is still exactly what people want, and precisely the way they want to pay.

The upcoming 2017 study also examines some fresh trends, including the expansion of mobile order & pay across multiple retail and restaurant environments, with insights into how it’s impacting cash usage. The report also continues to monitor how millennials, now the largest demographic group and the most tech-savvy, view and use cash. It may surprise you.

So, be on the lookout for the 2017 Health of Cash Study next week to learn more about:

  • Where digital advances.
  • Where cash holds the line.
  • Whether cash can play an enduring role in an increasingly digital world.

What you will discover – and not unexpectedly – is a divide between the will of the people and payments industry insiders when it comes to the notion of a cashless America.