New Report Uncovers How Payment Methods are Rapidly Changing

Nearly 9 in 10 consumers (89%) use cards or contactless payment every or most times they visit a pub, bar or restaurant, new research shows, while new payment tech grows in popularity

The latest GO Technology report from hospitality tech provider Zonal and data and insight firm CGA by NielsenIQ, shows how the balance of payment methods has tipped decisively from cash to card. The survey, commissioned in partnership with digital payments leader, PayPal, found that 71% of people no longer frequently pay with cash when in hospitality venues and 69% of UK consumers now withdraw cash less than once a week.

Card payments are in danger themselves, however, with mobile methods and wearable tech growing in popularity. Nearly a quarter (24%) of consumers say that when in hospitality venues they now frequently use digital wallets – like Apple or Google Pay – and nearly one in seven (13%) consumers say they use a device – such as a smart watch – every or most times, rising to 25% of 18- to 34-year-olds.

Furthermore, a significant number of people are interested in newer technologies such as ‘pay-with-your-face’ recognition software, which a third (34%) of people said they find appealing. Close behind are options like digital IDs (33%), ‘invisible’ payments or just walk-out technology (31%), such as Amazon’s ‘Amazon Fresh’ stores, and microchips under the skin (29%).

While recent reports have suggested cash may have a mini revival as people look to manage their money as the cost-of-living soars[1], the research decisively shows that hospitality operators will need to ensure they are staying up-to-date with the latest payment technologies if they want to remain ahead of the competition.

Olivia FitzGerald, Chief Marketing and Sales Officer, Zonal, said:
“There has certainly been a behaviour-shift in hospitality, with more people switching to digital forms of payment, such as apps, mobiles and wearables. Whilst cash remains an option for some, the overwhelming use of digital payment combined with a growing interest in futuristic and ‘invisible’ payment methods shows that attitudes have changed hugely. The move towards a cashless society was accelerated by the pandemic, but our research shows that the shift is here to stay and we’ve reached a tipping point where venues will miss out on business if they can’t keep up.”

Karl Chessell, CGA Director – Hospitality Operators and Food, EMEA, commented:
“It’s clear from this research that while cash remains an important part of people’s lives, it is steadily being replaced by card and device-led payments. COVID triggered a major shift to contactless methods for safety, and many consumers will be taking those habits into the future. The need for hygiene also prompted some operators to create cash-free venues, and they too are unlikely to revert to pre-COVID models.”

“Payment is a crucial stage of anyone’s journey through a restaurant, pub or bar. Guests who find it quick and easy will leave with good impressions, but those who find it frustrating might never come back. Whether using cash, card, phone or watch, it’s important that venues deliver the flexibility, speed and convenience to meet demands. All operators will need to keep a close eye on changing preferences and payment innovations in the months and years ahead.”

Vincent Belloc, Vice President & Managing Director at PayPal UK said:
“This research highlights that whilst traditional forms of payment remain prevalent in hospitality, the pandemic has accelerated the shift towards digital with contactless payments and Order & Pay adoption set to grow further. This trend aligns to the demand of consumers to have the simplest and smoothest payment experience when eating or drinking out, with security being an ever-growing concern as digital adoption expands.”