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Mobile Card Apps And The Two COVID Personas

July 17, 2020 at 02:30PM

Mobile card apps went from nifty to necessary when the darkest imaginings of last March had people picturing COVID-19 on every surface, suspended in every breath. That hasn’t turned out to be the case (at least not entirely), but the digital shift the virus inspired is definitely real, and rocking.

PYMNTS’ July 2020 Building a Better App Playbook, done in collaboration with Ondot, focuses on the rise of credit and debit usage amid the pandemic’s backdrop. Noting how consumer preference for credit and debit is glaringly defined in Q2 data, the Playbook states, “There is one thing these two types of cards have in common in the current social and economic climate: They have become almost exclusively the main forms of consumer payment as much of the economy migrates online, spotlighting mobile card apps’ value.”

“Card apps can help users feel more secure in their online spending by sending transaction alerts that provide spending insights and by making it easy for users to report lost cards or suspected fraud, for example. Consumers are interested in applying mobile card management tools in different ways, however,” the report states.

Those “ways” comprise the contents of July’s Building a Better App Playbook: The Card User Preferences Edition. Card use preferences, spending and demographic factors related to consumers’ use of (and interest in) mobile card apps are all explored with a prescriptive eye.

Meet the 2021 Cardholder

Much has been written and said about “pandemic changes,” but in surveying over 3,000 U.S. cardholders for this series, PYMNTS went further, identifying distinct changes to consumer types via sentiment and behavior. Building a Better App Playbook: The Card User Preferences Edition identifies three personas based on consumers’ payment preferences in our analysis:

  • Debit-centric: primarily use debit cards for purchases
  • Credit-centric revolvers: primarily use credit cards; carry balances each month
  • Credit-centric transactors: primarily use credit cards; pay off entire balances monthly

As in other research PYMNTS is conducting about the COVID-19 episode, the emergence of new consumer personas in card usage aligns with developments elsewhere.

“PYMNTS’ research reveals that card apps may offer particular value to debit-centric consumers and credit-centric revolvers — groups that tend to be younger and have tighter finances,” the new Playbook states. “They appeal to these groups in varying ways, however, as debit-centric users are particularly interested in mobile tools that make managing their cards more convenient, while credit-centric revolvers are more focused on gaining greater control over their finances.”

“What these two groups have in common is their importance for banks, especially smaller ones that more commonly issue debit cards and must work to stay relevant to younger, digitally-oriented consumers,” the report continued.

Documenting the Downloaders

Because the topic is mobile card apps, a deeper look at findings in July’s Building a Better App Playbook edition show who’s doing what with digital downloads – and, critically, why.

“Debit-centric consumers are the most likely to report having downloaded card apps, at 72.6 percent. This is notably higher than the portion of credit-centric revolvers who have done so (64.9 percent), as well as credit-centric transactors, at 48.6 percent,” per the new Playbook.

“There is an interesting distinction between debit-centric consumers and credit-centric revolvers when it comes to the actual use of card apps. Both groups tend to use the apps regularly to manage their cards, but credit-centric revolvers are more avid users: 65.4 percent report using them ‘most of the time’ for their card management activities, compared to 61.4 percent of debit-centric consumers,” the July Playbook states.

“Credit-centric revolvers and debit-centric consumers are the most active card app users, but this does not mean that they are entirely satisfied with what is offered.”

Mobile Card Apps And The Two COVID Personas …

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