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New Studies Show Cash Is As Important As Ever, Particularly to Underbanked Americans

08/19/2020 - Cardtronics

Two new Javelin studies on payment preferences in the U.S. find that most consumers think cash is safe and their payment preferences have not changed

Independent research company, Javelin Strategy & Research, with support from Cardtronics, conducted two new studies on cash to assess the strength and desirability of all payment options and to provide a window into consumer payment preferences within the U.S., both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn.

In late 2019, Cardtronics commissioned an independently produced research report about cash usage in the U.S., which published in February 2020 as the 2020 Health of Cash Study. Earlier this year, Cardtronics commissioned Javelin to conduct a companion study to measure consumer sentiment toward cash and payments during the pandemic. Cardtronics summarized the results of these two studies in a white paper called Health of Cash Check-Up May 2020: A Study of Cash and Payments in the United States. 

Paul Wilmore, CMO for Cardtronics, said, “We saw from the first study that cash was the most used payment method and consumers associated cash with protection from data hacking, availability for everyone, privacy protection, spending control, and reliability. The second study revealed that for most consumers, cash remains the most used payment method of any available. While COVID-19 has created tremendous change in nearly every aspect of the daily lives of consumers, the crisis has not removed cash from its place of critical importance in the wallets of U.S. consumers.”

Key findings of the new study include:

  • Payment preference, and the preference to pay in cash, has not changed
  • Consumers are making fewer payments of all types
  • Consumers are not worried about using cash
  • For underbanked, cash is still the most important way to pay
  • Consumers want to choose how they pay
  • Consumers are not significantly shifting payment activity to mobile and contactless

Both studies are available for download at