Majority of Canadians are willing to drop cash in favour of digital payments

By: Dominic Licorish on May 9, 2017

A new study found that two-thirds of Canadians are willing to do away with cheques and half would be okay to stop using traditional cash as well.

The Payments Pulse Survey, conducted by Payments Canada and Leger Marketing, polled Canadians on their spending habits and sentiments. Despite the surprising willingness to let go of traditional payment methods, the survey also found that Canadians are reluctant to make the move from cash and cards to completely digital e-wallets. Only 13% of respondents said they’ve adopted e-wallets, while 50% said they were “somewhat very anxious” about the arrival of e-wallets.

That’s still a lower rate of anxiety than for other emerging technologies. The survey asked how Canadians felt about artificial intelligence and self-driving cars, and found that almost two-thirds of Canadians were anxious about them.

Of those who have adopted e-wallets, the survey found the number one benefit for respondents is convenience (83%). This was valued even more than privacy as nearly half (48%) said they are willing to trade a certain amount of privacy for that convenience.

Canadians are also tired of fees. 70% of Canadians are unwilling to pay fees for digital wallets and only 27% said they’d be willing to pay per transaction for a fully accessible digital payment system that completely eliminates cash or cheques.

People who use digital banking services tend to be the most positive about going cashless, with 9 out of 10 people who have stored personal credit card information on an app or ecommerce site saying they feel confident in its security. And even though only 27% of Canadians have tried doing a mobile phone cheque deposit, a whopping 97% responded they were happy with the service.

The report highlights how consumer sentiment is changing around the way we interact with money, but the digital payments industry in Canada has yet to catch up with our global neighbours.

Financial laws, lack of infrastructure, and other hurdles have stalled widespread adoption of the new technology. But Gerry Gaetz, CEO of Payments Canada, believes we could be close to seeing some real progress, saying “This data demonstrates a natural ambivalence around emerging technological advancements in payments, but endorsement from early adopters, which often signifies a tipping point.”