Travelers Increasingly Prefer Mobile Payments

May 4, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

Way back in the long-long-ago, travelers used to eschew cash in favor of the traveler’s check. They’ve been around since the 1890s, but started to decline in the 1990s as the debit and credit card started to take hold. A recent study from Visa, meanwhile, spelled out how cash is king right now, but mobile payments are starting to take hold as a new alternative in the travel field.

Visa’s Global Travel Intentions study illustrates that cash is indeed king, as 77 percent of respondent travelers prefer cash above most any form of payment. Cash’s crown, however, is looking more than a little tarnished; though plenty of cash users are still on hand, people are increasingly freaked out about carrying large wads of currency with them that could be easily lost and / or stolen.

Most carry as much as they’ll need for the entire trip with them immediately, and since the average traveler spends about $1,793 per trip, that can mean a hefty sum carried around like so much pocket change. Moreover, only 10 percent will make an ATM withdrawal abroad, with 20 percent citing—once again—security as the biggest problem in using ATMs in unfamiliar countries.

As more people plan to travel abroad, and the trips become shorter, a way to pay quickly and effectively will be increasingly desirable. Planning on the cash to take in with a traveler will become tougher, and thus a new alternative will be worthwhile. Some card systems are allowing users to select local currency as a payment option, which will certainly be welcome, but it’s also a great opportunity for mobile payments to step in.

Traveler’s checks made a name for themselves on the back of incredible security; if the checks were ever lost or stolen, the loss was immediately made good as soon as an issuing bank or similar location was found. That gave travelers peace of mind, and that’s desirable, especially in a foreign country. That mobile payments could step up here isn’t surprising either; we’re talking about a medium that’s been actively working to bolster security almost since its inception.

A good, safe trip is top priority for most any traveler, and mobile payments can be—and increasingly is—a great way to make that trip safer and better.