In Milan today during “SIA EXPO 2014”, the event dedicated to “Digital Transformation”, the SIA survey carried out by SWG was presented.
The survey of a sample of 1,000 Italian citizens (plus a further 200 made up of public sector employees and teachers) looks at perceptions and attitudes towards digital payments.
The results of the research highlight the existence of a two-speed Italy, with a net contrast between one section of the population reluctant to use digital payment tools (defined as “low users”, totaling 35% of those interviewed) and another part, strongly digitalized, which would like to see a further increase in the opportunities to use digital payment means (defined as “heavy users” and representing 23% of those interviewed).
The differences between low users and heavy users result from two key factors: the cultural attitude towards the digital world in a broad sense and the actual experience coupled with a degree of awareness regarding the electronic payment tools.
Low users: the fears that discourage the use of digital payments
In particular, low users consider digital money to be less safe (an opinion equal to 5.6 points on a scale of 10 against 7.3 for cash), less affordable compared to cash (5.3 against 6.9) and less effective in allowing one to keep expenses under control (5.2 against 7.4 for cash).
Those who use forms of electronic money less give as their reasons the fear of falling victim to fraud (27%), of losing control of spending (23%) and a general mistrust of forms of digital payment, preferring cash (21%).
Heavy users: digital payments, the more you use them, the more they convince you
In contrast, heavy users, while more aware of certain security risks and while they may have suffered an electronic fraud (39% compared to 13% of low users), have a perception of digital payments which is considerably more positive, based on experience, which means they consider electronic money more convenient (8.5 points on a scale of 10 compared to 6.5 points for cash), faster (8.3 against 7.1), simpler (8.2 against 7.7), more secure (7.3 against 7.2), affordable (7.3 against 6.6) and effective in keeping spending under control (7.1 against 6.8).
Also heavy users pay particular attention to security and show approval for all the measures that ensure greater protection of the consumer (text messages to confirm completion of payments, use of additional security codes when making digital payments, insurance guaranteeing reimbursement in the case of frauds).
There is also a widespread perception that we are witnessing an unavoidable change, which cannot be stopped and which sees other European countries at a more advanced stage compared to Italy: 88% of heavy users and 62% of low users are convinced of this.
Also low users recognize this fact, but appear to maintain an attitude of resistance which leads them to cling to their own habits, avoiding every change, until such time as use of electronic money will be absolutely inevitable.
The majority of those interviewed (82% of heavy users) attribute an important role to forms of electronic payment in the fight against tax evasion, in a vision of the future in which the complete transition towards digital payments will be slow (80% of the sample), yet inevitable and will be characterized by the spread of more secure systems integrated with latest generation mobile devices.
Heavy users would like to be able to use electronic payments on an increasingly wider scale, especially for expenses regarding the Public Administration: from Imu, Tasi and Tari local taxes (62%) to parking fees (20%) and say they are also ready for a further dematerialization towards the use of mobile devices to make micropayments.
The Public Administration itself will play a crucial role in the future growth of digital payments. The public sector employees interviewed are aware of the positive effects that the digitalization of processes and payments can bring (92%) and the improvement in the quality of the services provided to users (88%), but at the same time teachers show a certain degree of fear that the re-organizational processes connected to the transition to digital can lead to a reduction in the personnel employed (65%).
In addition, the SIA research illustrates that only 36% of the total sample is aware of the 31 December 2015 deadline by which all PA bodies, at local and central level, must permit electronic payments (for fines, taxes, healthcare fees, etc.) by adapting their procedures.
In answer to the question about which scenario they feel is most probable at the end of next year, only 13% believe that all Public Administration bodies will be able to accept digital payments, 41% foresee that the legislative term will be postponed and the remaining 46% predict that some bodies will not be ready and there will be disruption for citizens.