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2 key groups move away from debit

Many would use card controls, notifications, and rewards

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2 key groups move away from debit

While overall U.S. debit card usage holds steady, young adults and high-income earners are shifting away from debit card use, concludes Mercator Advisory Group, citing a recent survey.

Usage by both demographic segments declined to a seven-year low in 2015: 52% of households earning $100,000 or more a year and 56% of young adults, both of which are less than the average (59%).

Young adults and high income earners are also more likely than average to have noted potential or actual fraudulent activities on their debit cards or their card was lost or stolen. The online survey polled 3,008 U.S. adults and was conducted in June 2015.

Card account controls have appeal

Mercator’s survey finds 42% of all consumers expressing an interest in mobile-based account controls for debit cards to avoid fraud and control their spending (a finding with little change since a 2014 survey). Young adults are especially interested in this mobile feature (55%, up from 48% in 2014), even more showing interest this year.

Notably, people who have debit cards but choose not to use them (51%) are more likely than debit card users (43%) to be interested in this feature. This represents an opportunity for debit card issuers to increase card activation and stimulate greater debit card transaction volume by enhancing perceived security of debit cards, the Mercator survey report concludes.

“Consumers are expressing more security concerns about using debit cards at online retailers and are consistently demonstrating stronger interest in enhanced security services,” says Karen Augustine, author of the report and manager of Primary Data Services at Mercator Advisory Group. “Concerns about security, particularly online, as well as lack of rewards are potential inhibitors to greater debit card use.”

When asked about value-added services for debit cards, three in five consumers expressed interest in valuable debit card rewards and enhanced security with identification protection. These were found to be the two most desirable services for debit cards of the eight the survey question listed.

More than half of respondents interested in enhanced security would be willing to pay for this service. Debit card owners who choose not to use debit cards are just as interested in enhanced security and identification protection as in debit card rewards and slightly more likely than average to be interested in both.

Debit card users are more likely than average and more likely than debit card owners who do not use the cards to want more valuable rewards and enhanced security, and significantly more interested in enhanced security than in the next most desirable value-added service.

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