Mastercard Study: Consumers are Hungry for More Innovation. But in Europe, Not So Much.

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While European consumers are happily embracing technology, they are a bit more cautious about their payment technology than their counterparts in developing areas. In other countries across the Middle East and Africa, the attitude is more “bring it on.” This is according to Mastercard’s Impact of Innovation Study, a survey of consumers across 23 countries that measured their attitudes about digitization and its impact on their lives.

The study looked at consumers’ readiness to adopt payment innovations, including mobile payments and beyond, and found interesting differences between the more and less developed markets. Despite their differences, however, consumers overall expressed positive feelings about the effect of digitization on their lives. This is good news for software-as-a-service companies thinking about becoming payment facilitators – they are likely to find receptive consumers willing to engage with technology.

The Mastercard study divides consumers into the regions of Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, and what the report calls High Growth – Emerging, which consists of Russia, Ukraine and Turkey.

The survey found that consumers generally feel that technology is a good thing –  92% of total respondents said that they think innovation has a positive impact on society. However, when it comes to innovations in payment, consumers in Western Europe are the most likely to hold on to their cards for now.

When consumers were asked which device they preferred for making payments, the mobile phone won out over tablets, smart watches, fitness bands, implants, and other technological innovations across the countries surveyed.

But Western Europeans showed the least readiness to embrace mobile payments, at 37%. Respondents in the Middle East and Africa, on the other hand, were quite ready for mobile payments at 75%. At the same time, 92% of respondents in this region chose something from among the devices offered, while 46% of Western Europeans chose nothing at all.

According to the press release, the attitudes toward mobile payment are consistent with other findings within the study. Across a number of questions, Europeans – Western Europeans in particular – indicated more resistance to innovation than those in regions that are less developed technologically.

When asked about payment authentication methods, respondents’ preferences among PIN, SMS and biometric options varied widely. But across the board, consumers want their authentication to work. They were less concerned about speed and ease of use than they were concerned about its effectiveness in securing their bank accounts.

Consumers also indicated that they see digital technology as democratic, with most respondents saying they think digital services will spread to more people and places, rather than being limited to a privileged few.

“In previous years many consumers told us they had a negative or neutral view of digital innovation. But this study shows a major global shift in consumer behavior. People across many diverse countries want a digital lifestyle and think it brings benefits to their lives. It’s important we listen to consumers about the types of innovation they want to see more of – but it’s extremely exciting to see the pace and appetite for change,” said Ann Cairns, president, International Markets, at Mastercard.

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