Digital payments are proliferating worldwide and are proving increasingly popular. In China, the mobile payments market is worth $5.7 trillion and is dominated by two behemoths, Alipay and WeChat Pay. Facebook wants to launch Libra, a global digital currency, later this year, a move which has prompted wider discussion about central bank digital currencies.
While the rise in digital payments is global, different regions have disparate needs. In advanced economies, services such as FedNow in the US and Faster Payments in the UK are evolving to meet the need for faster back-end payment solutions which can underpin retail payments. In emerging markets, the surge in mobile payments makes it much easier for workers to send remittances home to their families.
A report from OMFIF (Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum) presents findings of a global opinion poll on public trust in monetary institutions, payment characteristics and digital currency, and was conducted by Ipsos MORI across 13 advanced and emerging countries.
The findings suggest that central banks are well-positioned to issue digital currency. In almost all countries, respondents indicated that they would feel most confident in digital money issued by the domestic monetary authority. Respondents globally expressed a lack of confidence in digital money issued by a tech or credit card company, particularly respondents from advanced economies.
The survey reveals significant differences in attitudes depending on levels of income and education, age and nationality. High-income and young respondents express the most confidence in current and future digital money, and consider speed to be part of the appeal. The results indicate that openness to digital offerings rises with income and education levels, but declines with age.
When respondents are asked about their preferred ideal characteristics for a payment method, they are unanimous in citing safety from fraud and theft as the most important feature, across all countries. Speed is the least important characteristic, suggesting that digital money will have to improve its safety features if it is to be adopted widely.
The findings suggest that cash remains king: it has the highest average score across all different payment characteristics posed to respondents, across most different income, education and age groups. Cash is particularly popular in some advanced markets, such as the US and Britain. Respondents in emerging markets show the greatest level of willingness to embrace digital currency in the future and are open to the question of who should issue it.