A survey by the online payment firm PayPal suggests the majority of people in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Germany and Australia wish they could leave their wallet at home and pay for purchases in a less cumbersome way.
Eighty-seven per cent of Canadians who answered the somewhat self-serving — on PayPal's part — online survey said they would like to be able to leave their wallets at home. That was similar to the findings in the other four countries surveyed, with Germans being the most likely (90 per cent) to prefer a wallet-less existence. Overall, 83 per cent of people who answered the survey would prefer to not have to carry a wallet.
Canada had the highest percentage of respondents — 75 per cent — who said they were unable to pay for something because they didn't have cash with them. Germans were the least likely to encounter this frustration, with only 57 per cent reporting this problem.
"It's not about replacing cash or your credit card with a new payment method; it's about using technology to solve real shopping pain points," said PayPal president David Marcus in a press release.
Wallet a pain at beach, gym
The beach was the place most people wish they could go without a wallet, followed by the gym. Canadians also had bars high on the list of places they wished they didn't have to bring a wallet to, while Americans and Germans found wallets more of a hassle at concerts and sporting events.
Wakefield Research conducted the poll, surveying 1,000 debit and credit card holders 18 and older in each of the five countries. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20.
With people getting more and more dependent on their smartphones, the devices are surpassing the wallet as the one indispensible accessory. U.K. respondents were the most likely (32 per cent) to choose a smartphone over a wallet if they could only bring one item when going out, followed closely by Americans, 29 per cent of whom would rather bring their smartphone than a wallet. Close to one in four Canadians polled said they would choose a smartphone.
The PayPal survey coincides with the launch of the company's Cash for Registers program, which, starting in June, will waive transaction fees for any U.S. merchant that trades in their cash register for a digital device that supports PayPal payments. Merchants can download a free app for iPhone, iPad, or Android devices — called PayPal Here — that enables them to process PayPal and other types of payments and can get a free card reader that attaches to smartphones and tablets and allows them to swipe customers' credit and debit cards.
The program is part of PayPal's expanding reach into the bricks and mortar retail space. PayPal's Check-In feature, introduced last year, already allows customers at some U.S. stores to scan items using their smartphone and pay for them through their PayPal account.
Wallet will follow penny
The appetite is ripe for simpler, more efficient payment methods, the company said, with countries like Canada and Australia recently getting rid of their one cent coins and more people getting used to making purchases quickly and easily online.
"The wallet's demise may be preceded only by the extinction of the penny," PayPal said in its release. "In the U.S., a penny already costs more than two cents to produce, but Americans report their spare change usually isn't used."
Americans and the British are the most likely to lose spare change, and Germans are more than three times as likely to have change on them.
PayPal is the dominant e-commerce system used to pay for goods and services online. It enables users to transfer money over the internet without having to reveal financial information to the person or vendor to whom they are paying the money. PayPal is a subsidiary of the online auction site eBay and is headquartered in San Jose, Calif.
It says it has more than 128 million active accounts and processes transactions in 190 markets and 90 currencies around the world.