Italians like electronic money and now use it regularly in their daily lives, and many would also be prepared to use their mobile phone as a payment instrument.
These are the findings of a recent SIA opinion poll, carried out by market research firm ISPO (Istituto per gli Studi sulla Pubblica Opinione) and presented today in Milan during "SIA Expo 2012", the event dedicated to next generation payments.
The SIA survey, carried out at national level and involving a stratified sample statistically representative of the adult population, reveals that 21% of Italians exclusively use cash, 62% use payment cards and 19% declare that they are well disposed to using mobile payments.
Also of note is the fact that 79% possess at least one debit, credit or prepaid card.
Analyzing the social-demographics of users of the various payment systems, it emerges that "cash lovers" are mainly the retired (30%) and housewives (29%), the over-64s (35%), and people who only possess an elementary school leaving certificate (44%).
Among those who most favor the use of payment cards are entrepreneurs and company directors (89%), graduates (84%), people aged between 25 and 34 (75%), those between 45 and 54 (73%), and males (69%).
In conclusion, among those who claim to be in favor of using the mobile phone as a payment instrument are mainly young people aged between 18 and 24 (39%), students (38%), the unemployed/job seekers (30%), graduates (37%), residents in the north-west (21%), the south and the islands (19%).
The use of cash, while perceived positively and in a transversal manner by almost everyone for its "simplicity", may in any case be short-lived. In fact, 30% of Italians say that they are ready to abandon it completely in favor of electronic money, seen as "fast and convenient", also for payments of amounts under 50 euros.
And that is not all. If POS terminals were more widespread in stores and payments with cards were always accepted by Italian merchants, this percentage might even go up (57%) thanks to a more extensive acceptance network.
74% of Italians believe that the use of payment cards helps to reduce tax evasion.
In addition, according to 36% of interviewees, payments via mobile phone could make a significant contribution to deterring the use of cash. Indeed, the spread of mobile phones in Italy has seen a significant escalation over the past 15 years, rising from approximately 21% of families who possessed at least one in 1997 to 91.6% in 2011 (source ISTAT).
The survey explored the behaviors and preferences of consumers regarding electronic payments, highlighting the "pros and cons" of the various instruments and outlining the possible future scenarios and strategies.
"Our research has confirmed that new generation payments represent an important driver for the country system and can contribute to making up Italy's gap at European level - commented Massimo Arrighetti, CEO of SIA - When we talk about payments, what emerges is a three-speed Italy - that of cash, of cards and of mobile payments, which calls for a series of specific actions. The young, with their desire for innovation, represent the future where the dominant instrument will increasingly be the mobile phone, which adds to and integrates with payment cards. It is therefore imperative to identify the actions needed to promote the use of electronic payments and speed up the process already underway".