COVID-19 drives surge in digital adoption in 2020

PSCU releases third annual Eye on Payments study focusing on shifts in consumer payment preferences

ST. PETERSBURG, FL (October 22, 2020)PSCU has announced the release of its annual Eye on Payments study. For the third year in a row, the nation’s premier payments CUSO set out to gauge payment preferences among credit union members and other financial institution customers (“non-members”) and how they evolved over the past year. Through this annual research, PSCU explores the factors that influence consumers when it comes to their choice and usage of different payment methods, how these factors may vary among different life stages and economic events, and how credit unions can better serve their members and optimize their offerings to adapt to these evolving preferences and needs.

Virtually no aspect of the economy has remained untouched by COVID-19, and the payments industry is no different. The majority of respondents in the Eye on Payments study reported they make decisions about how they will pay for something primarily based on which payment option is the most physically safe at the point of sale. In line with this finding, the number of survey respondents – credit union members in particular – who say they shop online at least a few times a week increased significantly. Respondents also reported increased usage of mobile apps and online platforms to order ahead for grocery or food pick-up or delivery, with most respondents indicating they expect to continue using these channels post-pandemic, signifying long-term behavioral impacts.

“While we knew the pandemic was certainly impacting consumer payment needs and behaviors, our Eye on Payments study showed just how ubiquitous the impact was across all demographics and purchasing situations,” said Tom Pierce, chief marketing officer at PSCU. “This year’s study also revealed a significant increase in penetration and usage of contactless cards, likely driven by consumers’ desire for ‘clean’ forms of payments that limit human contact. In line with that impact, we also saw an increase in mobile wallet usage and digital banking.”

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, the primary drivers behind choice in payment method have remained consistent since last year. For the second year in a row, Eye on Payments found convenience and ease of use were the main factors in consumers’ purchasing decisions, along with speed. Nonetheless, security is still important, with the number of respondents reporting they make a decision about how to pay for something based in part on which is the most secure increasing since 2019.

Key findings from the study include:

  • Seventy percent of survey respondents reported they make decisions about how they will pay for something primarily based on which is the most physically safe at the point of sale.
  • The number of respondents that say they shop online at least a few times a week increased by almost 50% since the pandemic started.
  • There has been a 72% increase in respondents that report having a contactless card year-over-year. In addition, 57% of respondents said they used a contactless card at least a few times per month before the pandemic; this number increased to 65% during the pandemic, and 69% anticipate continuing to use it post-pandemic.
  • In 2019, 32% of respondents were likely or extremely likely to use a mobile wallet over the next six months. In 2020, this increased to 38%.
  • For contactless, 55% of respondents that use a contactless card do so because it is easy to use, 54% because it is fast and 51% because it is convenient. For mobile wallets, 55% of respondents attribute usage to convenience and ease of use, while 52% attribute it to being fast.
  • In 2019, four in 10 respondents agreed they make decisions about how to pay for something based in part on which is the most secure. In 2020, this increased to eight in 10. At the same time, the number of respondents that reported being victims of card fraud or identity theft only increased slightly this year, up to 13% compared to 12% in 2019.
  • For the second year in a row, debit remains the most preferred payment method across all demographics, with 41% of survey respondents preferring debit and 35% preferring credit.

“As evidenced by the events of this year, consumer behavior can be difficult to predict. We will continue to see consumer preferences and needs evolve as we move forward into 2021,” added Pierce. “PSCU’s goal through Eye on Payments is to not only secure a better pulse on payment preferences, but also to use the data to help our Owner credit unions gain a greater understanding of their members and make strategic decisions, ultimately helping them provide a more optimal member experience.”

PSCU surveyed more than 1,500 credit union members and non-members from across the United States. The online survey, conducted in July 2020, was taken by participants ages 18 to 65+. Of those surveyed, 48% were male and 52% were female, and demographic characteristics of those surveyed align with consumer data from CUNA’s 2019 Member Profile.

In addition to a deeper dive into the above key findings, the white paper also looks at how and why payment method preferences differ among generations, as well as recommendations credit unions can implement to better fulfill member payment preferences and needs.

The 2020 Eye on Payments white paper is available for download on the PSCU website.

About PSCU

PSCU/Co-op Solutions is the nation’s premier payments credit union service organization (CUSO) and an integrated financial technology solutions provider. With over four decades of industry experience and a commitment to service excellence and innovation, the company serves more than 4,000 financial institutions throughout North America. PSCU/Co-op Solutions leverages its expertise and resources on behalf of credit unions and their members, offering an end-to-end product portfolio that includes payment processing, fraud and risk management, data and analytics, digital banking, instant payments, strategic consulting, collections, ATM and POS networks, shared branching and 24/7/365 member support via its contact centers. For more information, visit and


Bill Prichard, APR, Director, Public Relations
PSCU/Co-op Solutions
(909) 532-9416 or

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