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Cash Use Strong in Fragmented Payments Landscape

Cardtronics study reveals 56 percent of consumers use cash as frequently as they did one year ago, and 23 percent are using it even more frequently

Cardtronics 2016 U.S. Health of Cash Study
Tech-savvy millennials choose cash as payment options abound

73 percent of millennials prefer to pay a friend or family member back with cash

/EIN News/ -- HOUSTON, Oct. 19, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- As consumers encounter a growing array of ways to pay – from cash and cards to mobile wallets and person-to-person (P2P) apps – a ‘new norm’ is emerging as consumers embrace a blended mix of payment options in today’s fragmented payments landscape.

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More – Not Either/Or
The 2016 U.S. Health of Cash Study by Cardtronics (Nasdaq:CATM) finds that people are individually defining payments convenience by embracing today’s unprecedented menu of ways to pay. Cash, card, digital and mobile – consumers are using a blended mix of payment options, with 85 percent using at least two different types of payment methods each month and 55 percent using at least three.

Cash has carved a prominent place within that blended mix and consumers’ everyday lives. In fact, cash is the most commonly used form of payment in brick-and-mortar stores at 89 percent – compared with 74 percent for debit cards, 66 percent for credit cards, 18 percent for store mobile apps and 17 percent for mobile wallets. The Health of Cash Study also found that 56 percent of consumers use cash as frequently as they did one year ago, and 23 percent are using it even more frequently.

“Consumers today desire and demand more payment choices in their financial lives to make life easier on their terms,” said Jonathan Simpson-Dent, chief commercial officer for Cardtronics. “And while emerging digital and mobile payment technologies are on the rise, the pace of adoption is sensible. Cash continues to be commonly used at the point-of-sale and is the runaway choice for P2P payments, with 79 percent of consumers overall – and 73 percent of millennials – preferring to pay back friends and family with cash over P2P payment apps, which came in at 10 percent.”

Millennials: Unlikely Drivers of Cash Usage
Illuminating the ‘new norm’ are the payments practices of millennials, now the largest and most tech-savvy demographic group. The study found that millennials are using all the major payment methods more frequently than they did a year ago, except checks. And despite the continued increase in the number of payment options, two-thirds (67 percent) of millennial digital payment users still use cash regularly, despite more payment methods being available today.

Cash a Part of Everyday Life – Preferred for P2P, Smaller Purchases and at Convenience Stores
Whether consumers prefer cash or another payment method usually depends on the specific occasion. Cash continues to dominate (79 percent) P2P payments in general, and in specific scenarios such as dining out with family or friends, in which case 55 percent of consumers (47 percent of millennials) still prefer to “split the bill” with cash despite the beginnings of a meaningful presence for non-bank and bank P2P payment apps (10 percent).

In general, 80 percent of people agree that they use cash for smaller items and other forms of payment for larger, more expensive items. Specifically, 72 percent of people use cash for purchases under $10 and 54 percent use cash for purchases under $20.

At convenience stores, consumers are almost twice as likely to have used cash in comparison to credit in the past six months, and 33 percent are more likely to use cash than a debit card. When it comes to impulse buys, 75 percent of items such as candy and gum – frequent convenience store purchases – are made with cash.

“One of the trend lines that reinforces the important role of cash in the everyday life of consumers is the healthy market share of cash usage at pharmacies, grocery stores and mass merchandisers such as Target and Wal-Mart,” added Simpson-Dent. “Debit is preferred in these three locations, but cash is neck-and-neck with credit and remains the most commonly used form of payment in brick-and-mortar stores overall.”

Security Concerns and Budgeting Driving Cash Preference
With data breaches in the headlines routinely, 83 percent of consumers have concerns about data security and privacy, while 93 percent believe cash can keep them safe from hackers. In addition, nearly two-thirds of people feel nervous when they don’t have cash on them, and 84 percent say they always try to keep cash on hand. Health of Cash Study respondents had an average of about $50 in their wallet.

In contrast, only 44 percent think credit cards or debit cards are safe, while about half (49 percent) think a mobile wallet is safe. The contrast is even starker when respondents were asked to identify which single form of payment method is “safe to use.” Fifty-nine percent said cash is safe while credit cards, debit cards and digital payments such as a mobile wallet drew 16 percent, 14 percent and 11 percent, respectively. 

Cash also plays a role in helping consumers manage their finances, with 77 percent of consumers reporting that cash helps them control their finances – and nearly half consider it the best option to do that. Among millennials, the trend is even stronger with 71 percent leaving their credit card at home when they go out to avoid overspending, and 70 percent who don’t like using credit cards because they “don’t like being in debt.”

Cash Will Never Go Out of Style (or Circulation)
A cashless society is a myth today and for the foreseeable future, with 83 percent of respondents saying they would miss cash if it went away and 85 percent believing cash will never go out of style. And while digital and mobile payment adoption is rising, a moderate pace of adoption indicates that consumers are complementing the use of cards and cash rather than replacing them large-scale.

With 79 percent of consumers claiming that they can’t imagine a world without cash, the  ‘new norm’ is not a cashless society, but rather one in which consumers will continue to demand a wide variety of payment options, and cash will continue to play a role in how consumers choose to pay.

For additional insight from Health of Cash Study, download the white paper and infographics at:

About the Cardtronics 2016 U.S. Health of Cash Study
Cardtronics partnered with Edelman Intelligence, an independent market research company, to conduct a survey of 1,006 U.S. census representative people over 18 years of age, with the survey being fielded Sept. 6-13, 2016.  The survey was distributed to respondents online and the margin of error for the audience was +/- 3.08% at the 95% confidence level.

About Cardtronics (Nasdaq:CATM)
Making ATM cash access convenient where people shop, work and live, Cardtronics is at the convergence of retailers, financial institutions, prepaid card programs and the customers they share. Cardtronics provides services to approximately 200,000 ATMs in North America and Europe. Whether Cardtronics is driving foot traffic for North America and Europe's top retailers, enhancing ATM brand presence for card issuers or expanding card holders' surcharge-free cash access, Cardtronics is convenient access to cash, when and where consumers need it. Cardtronics is where cash meets commerce.

Contact Information:

Media Relations
Nick Pappathopoulos
Director – Public Relations
  Investor Relations
Phillip Chin
EVP Corporate Development & Investor Relations

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The photo is also available via AP PhotoExpress.

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