Youth, Money and Mobility

David Byrd : Byrd's Eye View
David Byrd
Chief Marketing Officer for ANPI

Youth, Money and Mobility

Yesterday, during lunch the subject of checks was raised and we discovered that one among us had never written a check. Not too surprising, he was also the youngest of the seven of us. In order to transact financially, he uses cash, debit and credit cards, and electronic banking. As he was peppered with questions about how he paid for various items, I thought back to when I stopped carrying a check book and the last time I voluntarily wrote a check. Note, it has been nearly twenty years since I stopped carrying a checkbook. Even when I ran my own business, the only reason to write checks was to pay employees who did have bank accounts and to manage cash flow to certain vendors. Yet, in the 1990s, it was forecasted that not only would people stop writing checks, cash as well would become an anachronism.

The world was on the brink of becoming a cashless society. I was working with companies like IBM, Verisign and major banks in the US and Europe on electronic money or digital cash. Ultimately, these solutions never received wide-scale adoption. Today, the most popular methods of payment include credit and debit cards, money transfers, electronic banking and, of course, cash. However, the use of mobile devices as a form of payment and money transfer is rising. While dollar volumes were not released, both PayPal and eBay experienced a surge in the use of mobile payment applications during Black Friday (PayPal reported +538% year over year (YoY)). GSI Commerce reported an increase of 345% across the US. And according to IBM, consumers using a mobile device on Black Friday to visit a retailer’s website was 17.37% and the number of purchases using a mobile device was 9.73% (up over 300% YoY).

Our lunch discussion allowed me to note several things. IP communications has expanded the methods of payment for most us. It, along with improved broadband, Wi-Fi and wireless devices, enables a multitude of choices in how to conduct a financial transaction. However, check writing is not dead. In 2009 in the US alone, 25.3 billion checks were written with an average value of $1625 (Global Finance Magazine). So, they will be with us for quite some time.

Just as the end of “brick and mortar” was overstated with the advent of the Internet and eCommerce, paper transactions will continue to maintain a foothold in our economy. However, a clear trend exists with the “always on” generation. They will conduct their financial transactions and, in general, their lives using solutions and tools enabled by IP communications.

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