hamburger button

The Digital Payment Wave

Less Americans are using cash for purchases

Goodbye paper, hello digital. According to two new reports, fewer Americans are using cash. Instead, more people are relying on mobile payment apps for their purchases.

One study, from the Pew Research Center, found that 30 percent of adult Americans make zero cash purchases in a typical week — a five percent increase from 2015. Also, those who reported making “all or nearly all” of their purchases with cash declined from 25 percent in 2015 to 18 percent in 2018. Younger people, the Pew study found, are more inclined to use digital payments than older people. About 34 percent of adults under 50 make zero cash purchases in a typical week, compared to 23 percent of adults over 50.

A separate report from US Bank reinforced this digital push. The study found that 50 percent of adult Americans carry cash with them less than half the time they leave their homes. Of those who did carry cash, 76 percent said they carry less than $50, and 50 percent said they carry less than $20. Like the Pew report, the US Bank study found that young people are the main drivers of digital payments. The survey showed that one out of every 10 millennials used a mobile payment app like Venmo for all of their purchases.

The digital payment wave is clearly taking over. Like most things, this is both good and bad. It’s good in that it’s much more convenient to use a mobile app to pay for items, as most people have their smartphones handy. It’s bad in that when it comes to purchasing items, sometimes a little friction is helpful. When using a mobile payment app, try to be mindful of your purchases. Just because it’s easy to buy something doesn’t mean you should.

Chris O'Shea

Chris O'Shea