Millennial mobile payment users take more financial risks

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Younger adults who regularly use mobile payments are more likely to take financial risks and rack up fees, according to a new financial literacy study by the George Washington University School of Business.

Millennial mobile payments users were significantly more likely to overdraw their checking accounts, prematurely take money out of their retirement accounts and use high-interest financial services including payday loans or pawnshops than cohorts who didn’t use mobile payments, according to two surveys, GW said in a Monday press release.

The raw data was gathered in 2015 and 2016 and there’s no indication that mobile payment usage causes users to make poor financial decisions, said Annamaria Lusardi, one of three researchers who conducted the study, during a webinar today announcing the results.

“We can’t conclude that poor money management occurs because people are using mobile payments, but these findings are nevertheless important because it shows mobile payment services are attracting more consumers with much broader range of needs than the average,” Lusardi said.

Among millennials who regularly use mobile payments, 33% were likely to overdraw their checking accounts, compared with 19% of millennials who don’t use mobile payments.

One of the most striking differences in the two groups centered on early withdrawal of retirement funds, according to the study. Thirty-seven percent of millennial mobile payment users said they had tapped their retirement funds early, compared with only 9% of millennials who don’t use mobile payments.

Lusardi said the study’s findings could point to new business for fintech developers.

“Millennials who use mobile payments are more likely to use technology … which means there could be opportunities in fintech to developing new products targeting several unmet needs" among millennials, she said.

The study examined data from 4,000 Americans between 18 and 34, querying participants about their use of mobile payments to pay for products or services at a store, gas station or restaurant using Near Field Communication or in-app contactless payments technology.

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