Consumers who own a debit card issued by their bank definitely prefer that payment method to other options, including alternatives such as PayPal.

But they are becoming increasingly aware of and interested in mobile payments – as long as they come from their bank, a card network or Apple Inc., according to the 2012 consumer debit payment choice study from Total System Services Inc. and Mercator Advisory Group.

"Consumers are interested in new payment options, but they completely understand payment cards and how they work today," says Sarah Hartman, senior director at TSYS.

Part of that consumer understanding includes when a bank is likely to follow up on a fraudulent transaction problem, Hartman says.

"We heard this with last year's report, and it is even stronger this year, that cardholders are expecting those same type of services and features with any new payment method before they will widely accept it," Hartman adds.

More than 1,000 debit card owners participated in an online survey, while TSYS and Mercator also interviewed individuals in three focus groups in compiling the study. Six age groups from 18 to 24, to 65 and older were equally represented in the report.

Debit cards continued to be the preferred payment method for 49% of respondents who cited the ability to use the card at stores and online, or to get cash at ATMs as valuable features.

More than half of the respondents (52%) had PayPal accounts, but only 13% said PayPal was their preferred payment method when shopping online. However, respondents indicated they prefer to use PayPal when it is offered as a payment option on the websites they are visiting.

"PayPal is in some places, but not all," Hartman says. "A lot of consumers got PayPal accounts for shopping on eBay, but they don't extend PayPal out to other purchases."

The current trend of value-added services to the mobile payment experience resonates with debit card owners, 38% of which said they would be interested in receiving offers or promotions through their mobile device while at a store.

Despite consumer preferences in payment types, merchant discounts or offers are the most effective way to influence those consumers to use a certain payment type more often, the report stated.

Sixty-seven percent of respondents showed particular interest in the ability to use accumulated rewards points to pay for purchases, while 64% cited the ability to get a discount at the time of the purchase, depending on what payment method they used, as a key feature.

Security of their accounts was a key concern for survey respondents who said financial institutions and card networks were trusted service providers. These consumers also indicate they prefer credit over debit when they have security concerns so as to protect their checking account, the report noted.

Consumer emphasis on security has become more prevalent each year, as fraud and risk management is considered an important value when considering a payment method, Hartman says.

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