Phoenix Synergistics: From Cash & Checks to Mobile Payments

Nov 2018 | Traditional and Digital Payment Methods | E-commerce, POS Transactions, and Bill Pay | New Competitors

Survey Topics

  • Environment
  • Cash and Checks
  • Credit Cards, Debit Cards, and Prepaid Cards
  • Mobile Payments
  • Payment Behavior at the Point of Sale
  • Bill Payment


National Survey – The survey will include 1,500 online interviews with consumers age 18 or older.


  • Profile the current payment activity of consumer households. Examine the preferences and activity for cash, checks, debit cards, credit cards, prepaid cards, and mobile payments. Determine the perceived benefits and problems associated with various payment methods.
  • Assess consumers’ payment preferences among different point-of-sale locations. Consider if preferences can be shifted with new payment options or technology.
  • Examine consumers’ bill payment behavior. Measure the relative online activity between PC-based and mobile bill payment. Determine the perceived advantages and disadvantages of online bill payment.
  • Profile consumers’ e-commerce payment activity. Measure experience with alternative payment options – such as PayPal Credit, Visa Checkout, or MasterPass.
  • Assess the current experience of consumers with mobile payments at the point of sale (POS). Uncover problems or issues experienced when using mobile POS payments. Measure likely adoption among nonusers.  Ascertain the current state of mobile person-to-person (P2P) payments.
  • Determine which payment methods or options consumers see as most – and least – secure against fraud and misuse. Assess how this is related to current payment behavior..

Key Dates

  • August 17, 2018 – Final acceptance of client comments on the questionnaire.
  • August 17, 2018 – Charter fee date.
  • October 2018 – Initial results available.
  • November 2018 – Project Report available.

Contact Mark Sutin at or 609-261-6332 to learn more about individual pricing and our discounted subscription offerings.

Consumer payments – encompassing point-of-sale, bill payments, and e-commerce – is an area of continual technological innovation and introduction of new alternatives.  Meeting customers’ expectations and maintaining a competitive position in this space is one of the most daunting challenges facing financial providers today.

The decline in check writing is well documented by industry and government data, as well as Phoenix Synergistics.  However, previous findings indicate there will continue to be segments that prefer checks for certain purposes for the foreseeable future.  The coming of the “cashless” society has been heralded for decades.  However, in recent years a number of reports from the Federal Reserve revealed that the usage of cash for small value payments at the point of sale continues to be strong.  Credit cards and debit cards continue to be widely used and are highly popular forms of payment.  Prepaid cards have a niche for certain types of everyday expenses, although their adoption as a general-purpose payment alternative appears to have leveled.

The introduction of “digital” wallets – such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay – was one of the significant developments in point-of-sale payments.  However, recent reports indicate that consumer adoption of mobile POS payments has somewhat stalled.  Examining behavior and perceptions related to this payment method is a priority.  Online bill payment has become near ubiquitous among consumers.  The ongoing impact of mobile alternatives on this space is an issue of great interest.  The role of third parties – such as telecommunications companies, e-commerce players, P2P organizations, and fintech entities – poses a very real threat to the traditional dominance held by banks in the payments area.  This study examines the scope of consumer payment behavior – including point-of-sale purchasing, e-commerce, and bill payment activity.

Key Finding from a Recent Report:

A comparison of findings from two consumer surveys by Phoenix Synergistics reveals an ongoing trend toward lower check writing volume. Have other payment methods experienced shifts in usage?

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