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    Ways to Pay

    Survey finds consumers want a variety of electronic payment choices.

    When it comes to paying for goods and services, consumers want and expect a choice of payment methods at the point-of-sale (POS), according to a recent survey released by First Data Corp.

    The STAR Consumer Payments Usage Study, conducted by an independent research firm, found that consumers reported using two to four payment types monthly, indicating that multiple payment types are favored based on individual preferences at the POS.

    The 2004 survey data also points to the continued growth of electronic payments at the POS. Nearly half of consumers surveyed (47 percent) prefer the PIN-secured method, compared to 30 percent who prefer the signature-based method. Survey respondents largely cite increased security as the number one reason for choosing to use their PIN numbers to make purchases (46 percent).

    More than five out of every six ATM/debit cardholders surveyed had used their ATM/debit card at an ATM or at the POS at least once in the 30 days prior to the survey. Twenty-nine percent of non-debit users surveyed report credit cards as their preferred means of payment, up 11 percent over 2003. Additionally, debit users are the least likely to pay with check, while non-users still report that they wrote an average of three checks per month at retail.

    The following are additional survey findings:
    -- Nearly half of consumers (47 percent) prefer the PIN-secured method, compared to 30 percent who prefer the signature-based method. Respondents largely cite increased security as the number one reason for choosing to use their PIN numbers to make purchases (46 percent).

    -- Consumers who use both PIN-secured and signature debit, nearly 6 out of 10, reported they use their cards on average of 21.4 times per month. Those who use only signature debit say they use their cards 13.4 times per month, and those who use PIN-secured debit only report using their cards 9.0 times per month.

    -- When consumers use their debit cards, they spend more. Debit purchases are 32 percent higher compared to cash and 24 percent higher compared to checks. Grocery stores, gas stations and specialty retail locations are the most likely to benefit, as they are the most popular outlets for PIN-secured debit payments, according to the survey.

    -- Consumer usage of store gift cards and pre-paid cash cards is on the rise. More than one-third of consumers surveyed indicated their use of a store-specific gift card to make a purchase in the past 12 months (40 percent), and nearly 20 percent of consumers have used a pre-paid cash card.

    -- Two-thirds of respondents reported they received the card as a gift (67 percent who used a pre-paid cash card and 80 percent who used a store gift card). Similar to stored value cards used, 39 percent of consumers surveyed have purchased a store-specific gift card in the past 12 months, and 23 percent had bought a pre-paid cash card, significant increases from the previous year’s 37 percent and 19 percent.

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