Experts say mobile payments aren’t replacing physical credit and debit cards anytime soon.
Plastic really might last forever.
While an increasing number of shoppers – up to 23% last year – used mobile payment apps to shop in brick-and-mortar stores, swiping a credit or debit card isn’t disappearing anytime soon.
In fact, peer-to-peer payment app Venmo – which built its brand on transferring funds between friends wirelessly (and with emoji) – has been quietly testing physical debit cards.
— Skrrt Cobain 🏎 (@C_Rod3) September 15, 2017
Until now, Venmo let users link their bank accounts to the app in order to send or request money with just a few taps of the screen, which has simplified splitting the bar tab or the utility bill. To “Venmo” someone has become a verb on par with “Googling” something.
Venmo users have also been able to pay for items online or in digital apps that have partnered with it and its parent company, PayPal. And it’s been a recipe for success; people exchanged $17.6 billion on Venmo last year, more than double the year before.
And Venmo has become the most popular money payment app among Millennials; of the 65% of 20 and 30-somethings who use payment apps, more than two-thirds (68%) of them use Venmo, compared to the 22% using their own bank’s mobile app, according to a recent LendEDU survey.
So why step back from digital to roll out a plastic card – especially one that Twitter has swiped left on for being ugly? (The card being used in beta testing by a handful of users pictures a lump of raw pizza dough.)
— Nick Abouzeid (@nickabouzeid) August 1, 2017
“We’re constantly testing new ways for people to use PayPal and Venmo to pay friends and shop,” spokesman Josh Criscoe told Moneyish, noting that the card may not see general release. “Physical payment cards have long been a part of our offering to customers (both consumers and merchants) and we’re exploring ways to provide even more options for people to shop with their accounts online and in stores.”
He also added that the controversial pizza dough design “is meant to be tongue in cheek for people participating in the beta, not a final design for general release.” (The dough hasn’t been rolled and baked into pizza yet.)
Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com, told Moneyish that Venmo, PayPal and even Square Cash adopting physical debit cards makes a lot of sense.
“It expands the universe of where Venmo can be used: You push money into your Venmo account and load it on your debit card, and it speeds up making purchases because you don’t have to wait the day or two for the money to transfer from your bank to your Venmo account,” he said.
And Venmo has been looking for ways to monetize its free service. “In theory, these cards will allow them to collect interchange fees from retailers – normally 2% to 3% from every transaction – which can be a significant revenue stream,” said Schulz. Credit card companies raked in $42.4 billion in interchange income last year.
Plus, consumers are creatures of habit. Multiple studies say about 7 in 10 Americans – or about 174 million U.S. adults in total – carry at least one credit card, according to CreditCard.com. And more than 1 in 10 parents are now even giving credit cards to their kids.
So shoppers aren’t going to trade those in entirely for mobile payments just yet; they’ll continue to use both interchangeably as needed.
“Changes in payments tend to happen glacially,” said Schulz. “I don’t think anybody questions that we are moving away from plastic and more toward mobile. But in order for people to shift away from something that they’ve done for decades, we need a reason to make a change. And most people don’t see an overwhelming reason to abandon plastic and dive fully into mobile payments yet. It’s just as easy to use the credit card.”
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