As new mobile payment options storm the market, plastic cards refuse to bend, according to a new study of consumer habits.

"Consumers still understand the current physical card environment, and they know how everything works," says Sarah Hartman, a senior director at TSYS, which published its Consumer Payment Choice Study Oct. 15.

The payments processor recently surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. consumers who have and use both a debit card and a credit card. Consumers provided their payment choice, what they value most, what might influence them to change how they pay, and their opinions on new payment offerings. 

For their preferred payment type, 55% of consumers say they most value paying directly from their checking account, while 46% say they most value the ability to use a card at a store and online. Forty percent value using an ATM card to get cash, and 39% like to see pending transactions immediately. Of less importance is the ability to transfer balances from other cards (12%), create personalized text alerts (11%) and register a payment card in a mobile phone-based wallet (6%).

TSYS' findings are consistent with other research that finds U.S. consumers have a lukewarm attitude toward mobile payments.

"The availability of mobile payments is not as widespread as the traditional credit or debit card physical payment, and there are still concerns over security, and the ease of use, as well as what happens if their cards get lost or stolen," Hartman says.

These headwinds aside, the mobile channel is expanding, though primarily for informational uses than for payments, Hartman says. "We still think it's important for issuers to focus on those non-payment offerings while still doing some pilots in mobile payments," Hartman says.

TSYS also polled consumers on issues such as location, discount and payment type.

Location plays a role in in which payment method consumers choose. Debit is the preferred payment type for supermarkets (46%), gas stations (38%) and discount stores (33%); credit exceeds debit for dine-in restaurants (34%) and department stores (33%). Credit is the preferred payment type online, while PayPal and debit as the preference of 22% of respondents.

PayPal, a unit of eBay, has begun aggressively building its in-store presence, but was listed as the preferred payment type for just 1% of supermarket and gas station purchases; and 2% in fast food restaurants, sit-down restaurants and department stores.

Tangible discounts are also popular, according to TSYS—65% of consumers say they would pick a card for cash-back rewards; while 60% say discounts sway their card use. Less popular perks include the ability to transfer money to another cardholder using an online or mobile phone app (38%), mobile customer service chat (36%) and a mobile app that classified purchases for budgeting or business/personal use (36%).

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