Are Consumers Ready to Go Cashless?

Author: By Rimma Kats

January 22, 2018

The idea of going cashless isn’t too far off, especially with giants like Starbucks and Amazon already taking the leap.

But are consumers keen on such a shift? According to new data from online polling company CivicScience, the answer isn’t so straightforward.

On one hand, a few consumers (10%) said they would actually go to their favorite restaurant more often if it went cashless—mostly because they rarely carry any cash with them. On the other hand, almost as many respondents (11%) said they would go less because they prefer to pay with cash. And another 15% indicated they would stop going to the restaurant altogether if it no longer accepted cash. 

By and large, a significant share of internet users surveyed seemed indifferent toward the idea of a cashless restaurant. Roughly two-thirds (64%) said their visit frequency wouldn't change.

Breaking it down by restaurant type, CivicScience found that nearly three in 10 respondents (29%) who frequent fast-food restaurants, like McDonald’s and KFC, said they would increase their visits if those places went cashless. However, over two-fifths (42%) of fast-food restaurant customers said they would go less, or halt trips entirely.

The responses were similar across the various restaurant types mentioned, including casual restaurants, such as Olive Garden and Applebee’s, as well as independently or locally owned ones.

A separate survey from Gallup, conducted in 2016, found that US adults were a bit more enthusiastic about a cashless society. In fact, roughly 62% of those polled said the US becoming a country where all purchases are made with credit cards, debit cards or other forms of electronic payment is at least somewhat likely.

The cashless change may be happening sooner than some consumers had anticipated. 

Recently, Starbucks announced it was piloting a new program at its downtown Seattle location where it wouldn’t accept cash as a form of payment. And earlier this week, Amazon officially opened its cashierless convenience store, which takes the cashless effort a step higher. Shoppers simply scan the Amazon Go app on their way into the store, grab whatever they want, and are automatically charged for items without having to wait in line or use a card.


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