Traditional assumptions about how demographic groups adopt digital channels are fading as comfort with new technology becomes common, according to new research from payment processor Total System Services (TSYS).

TSYS ran a survey of 500 U.K. consumers, and found almost no remnant of legacy theories, such as older consumers shun digital while younger ones will embrace it in any form; or more affluent customers want to cling to old banking models. Instead, TSYS found consumers across almost all demographic groups have the same level of openness to digital technology and payments.

"The idea is that my 88-year-old grandmother may use Facetime to communicate with her six-year-old grandson. That, in and of itself, is a good indicator," said Morgan Beard, the TSYS director of strategic marketing. "As a point in time, though, what the data may be telling us is 'Will we be able to see the progression? Will they become (increasingly) more comfortable?"

While those in the over 55 year-old bracket were slightly less likely to be in the vanguard of digital adoption than the rest of the age segments, there was no meaningful distinction by age, education or income levels when it comes to digital affinity, TSYS report said.

Although this is certainly an encouraging sign for the future of digital payments—and it's not the first sign of this age-agnostic acceptance—there is debate about how this trend will tangibly contribute to electronic transactions. For example, the report referenced digitally-frightened customers overcoming their hesitations if given a strong incentive, but it's unclear how willing those customers are to make deeper use of digital technology.  

This key is creating a value proposition that encourages people to not only embrace new technology, but to use it for transactions. "We're shedding landlines at exponential rates," said Richard Crone, a payments consultant. "But once you get them in the door, you have to engage them beyond that. After that, it's up to you to make a compelling experience."

For example, many mobile apps entice customers with intriguing offers and get them to download the app, Crone said. That is huge, but when it’s not continually reinforced with more and better offers, the value is lost. "Most apps remain idle" and get deleted the next time the consumer cleans up the phone. "How do you achieve killer app status?" Crone said.

The survey revealed some clues as to what features are attractive. The ability to temporarily disable payments accounts was both the top choice for "most valuable" as well as the bottom choice for "least valuable."

 Other popular features: receiving an alert for every transaction attempted while account is "off" (46% most valuable, 13% least valuable); Set future payments for an account to approve or decline, such as a magazine subscription, 38% most valuable, 16% least; and allowing recurring payments to happen even if the account is temporarily disabled, 31% most valuable, 19% least valuable.

"In the recent past, classical segmentation through socio-demographics was a reliable predictor of people’s behaviours," the report said. "Now, with all demographics having equal access to social, mobile and wearables (people may miss their rent payments, but never their smartphone bill), these models are suddenly antiquated."

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