Study: PayPal Most Used Digital Wallet, Apple Passbook Used Most Often

Digital WalletA new survey about digital wallet usage from Thrive Analytics finds that there’s a significant gap between awareness (PC + mobile) and usage. As one might expect, usage is higher among younger people and payment security is the biggest usage inhibitor.

The online survey had 2,038 US adult respondents.

Interestingly the survey found that people are carrying relatively little cash. Half of all respondents reported carrying less than $20 in cash on regular basis with “71% of females carrying] less [than] $30 compared to 54% of males.” There’s no historical information in the survey; however I suspect people carry much less cash than they used to.

Digital Wallet Usage by age

Nearly 80% (78%) of survey respondents said they were aware of “digital wallets” but only 32% had ever used one. Usage was higher among those 43 years and under and among men.

It’s no surprise that PayPal is the most well known and widely used digital wallet. Google Wallet was second after PayPal followed by Groupon. The presence of Groupon begs the question of how these respondents understood the term “digital wallet.”

For example does a stored credit card on Amazon count as a “digital wallet”? Amazon doesn’t appear to have been a survey choice. But there’s effectively no difference between a stored credit card on Amazon and one in Groupon’s mobile app. It’s also interesting that Starbucks doesn’t show up, although there is broad discussion of merchant app usage in the report.

Digital Wallet usage

Overall it’s not clear what the breakdown of mobile vs. PC wallet usage is in the data. I would guess that the majority of PayPal usage identified is on the PC but a high percentage of Groupon and 100% of Apple Passbook transactions are mobile.

While PayPal had the greatest reach among the digital wallets Apple Passbook was more often used. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say Apple Passbook is used more frequently by those who use digital wallets.

Digital Wallet Usage frequency

In the chart above on the right it shows that average transaction amounts are relatively small. Of the top three most used digital wallets Google Wallet features the highest percentage of transactions over $30.

Below are the most common transaction categories according to the survey findings. Many of these are mobile.

Indeed, most of the frequent, lower-cost transactions happen on mobile devices. The survey found that “75% of transactions less than $10 are done weekly via a mobile phone” and “70% of transactions greater than $30 are done quarterly or later via a lap top.”

Mobile wallet usage

The main reason that people don’t use digital wallets is fear surrounding payment security. This is well established and echoed in earlier surveys. At one time that may have been a paranoid and irrational fear but given all the hacking and security breaches lately it’s much more rational to be concerned about digital payment security today.

The concern about payment security and the perception that cash and credit cards are “easier” suggests that digital (and specifically mobile) wallets still have a great distance to go to become more mainstream. When I say this I’m talking about “horizontal” wallets that can be used across categories and merchants (e.g., ISIS, Google Wallet, PayPal).

Payment security

Yet, as I’ve argued elsewhere before, mobile payment adoption is happening and becoming quite mainstream in specific apps. Think about Uber or Groupon or Amazon (mobile) or Fandango where credit card numbers are stored in the app to remove transaction friction.

People often don’t see these in-app payments as “mobile wallet” transactions. But they are. And this is how mobile payments go mainstream.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed.

2 Responses to “Study: PayPal Most Used Digital Wallet, Apple Passbook Used Most Often”

  1. Krillion by Local says at

    Greg, thanks for sharing the new stats. Our own research indicates that Visa (at 24%) and PayPal (at 21%) are the top two brands consumers say they would trust for mobile payments. While mobile payments are slowly gaining ground, according to our research, 27% of consumers revealed that they’ve used smartphones to pay for an in-store purchase. The adoption rate is especially slow for the cross-channel, cross-category, “horizontal” wallets you mentioned.

    The discrepancy between awareness and usage of mobile wallets highlights how security and privacy concerns—as well as familiarity and satisfaction with credit card transactions—won’t help speed up adoption. We believe widespread adoption will occur in due time. In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how things play out.

  2. Greg Sterling says at

    I would be very interested to know who those 27% were and what app or in-store situation was involved. I think that number is probably high in terms of trying to extrapolate to a larger population.

  3. Will Apple Payments Resurrect Google Wallet? says at

    […] recent survey by Thrive Analytics shows the array of reasons consumers have so far not adopted broad-based mobile wallets. Among […]

  4. Apple’s plan to change how you pay for everything | iZomart Blog says at

    […] Primarily because people are worried about getting hacked. In a recent Thrive Analytics survey, 46% said they’re worried about […]

  5. Apple Pay, your digital wallet - LiveBox says at

    […] Primarily because people are worried about getting hacked. In a recent Thrive Analytics survey, 46% said they’re worried about […]

  6. Apple Pay: Is It Worth the Risk of Giving up Your Wallet? » NC Journal of Law & Technology says at

    […] obstacle might be finding a customer base that is willing to trust Apple’s security. A recent Thrive Analytics survey revealed that 46% of consumers had not used a digital wallet because they were concerned about the […]

  7. Internet Crime Fighters Organization Apple Pay - Internet Crime Fighters Organization says at

    […] Primarily because people are worried about getting hacked. In a recent Thrive Analytics survey, 46% said they’re worried about […]

  8. Apple’s plan to change how you pay for everything : Easy Cloud Solutions says at

    […] Primarily because people are worried about getting hacked. In a recent Thrive Analytics survey, 46% said they’re worried about […]

  9. Apple Pay, your digital wallet - LiveBox Cloud says at

    […] Primarily because people are worried about getting hacked. In a recent Thrive Analytics survey, 46% said they’re worried about […]

Leave a Reply