Who uses mobile payments?

Survey findings on consumer opinions, experiences

Mobile payments technology allows customers to make online and point-of-sale purchases, pay bills, and send or receive money from their smartphones via the Web browser, an app, or a text message.1 Mobile payments use has become widespread: Forty-six percent of U.S. consumers report having made a mobile payment, which translates to approximately 114 million adults.2 Expansion in the use of mobile payments over time has corresponded with an increase in smartphone ownership. In 2011, 44 percent of cellphones were smartphones.3 By 2015, the share had increased to 76 percent.

This chartbook presents findings from a nationally representative telephone survey that examined consumers’ opinions, experiences, and expectations of mobile payments. The survey followed focus groups that Pew previously convened as a first step in understanding consumers’ views on the potential benefits and risks of mobile payments. Specifically, this chartbook reports statistics on consumers’ awareness and perceptions of mobile payments technology, their usage and motives for use, and any barriers to usage. The key findings are:

  • Mobile payments users—consumers who have made an online or point of-sale purchase, paid a bill, or sent or received money using a Web browser, text message, or app on a smartphone—are more likely than nonusers to be millennials or Generation Xers, live in metropolitan areas, and have bank accounts and college or postgraduate degrees. Of these demographic categories, age is the most predictive of mobile payments use, particularly as it relates to smartphone ownership. (See the appendix for the demographics of mobile payments users and nonusers.)
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