Earlier this year, Accenture conducted their 2014 North American Consumer Payments Survey, which revealed surprising data about the rate of digital currency adoption. The Accenture survey revealed that those in the 18-34 age group or those that had higher income were more likely to use digital currencies such as Bitcoin. Of those that used digital currencies, the majority stated that they did so because it “protects personal identity,” with the second most cited reason being “lower cost transactions.”
To get a better idea of what one of the top consulting firms is planning to do regarding the advent of digital currencies, CCN interviewed Accenture Payments Services Managing Director Matthew Friend about Accenture and digital currency.
Accenture Payments Services Interview
Does Accenture have any plans to help shorten the information gap about Bitcoin and digital currencies?
We are working with leading payments providers to help educate the industry on where there are information gaps in digital currencies and we anticipate education on digital currencies will come from those providers. As our clients become more engaged and begin to adopt and use digital currencies for their businesses, we will also help advise them on the implications for consumers.
When will the survey be done again?
We plan to conduct our next consumer payments survey in 2016. We are considering following up with a supplemental survey next year – given the interest we have received in this year’s survey – and dive deeper on specific themes such as digital currencies and adoption rates and types.
Was Accenture surprised at the results at all? What were the expectations before starting the study?
Some of the results were surprising, particularly the level of digital currency adoption and the rate at which Millennials and high-income consumers anticipate driving more broad adoption during the next six years. We believe that financial institutions have an opportunity to be competitive in this space, but will need to upgrade their middle- and back-office legacy systems in order to support customer demand for faster, real-time digital payments. We also expected to see a sharper decline on the anticipated use of cash for payments in 2020. We found that traditional payment instruments are expected to decline only slightly, and that emerging payment instruments are supplements, not substitutions, for cash.
Many Reasons for Rising Digital Currency Adoption
In a previous study conducted by Skrill, it was revealed that 38% of consumers would abandon their online shopping cart if they were required to sign up for a new account just to pay. Decentralized digital currencies are prized because they do not require a centralized oracle. At the same time, the demand for smooth and simple check-out options is ever present both in brick and mortar businesses and international online stores. More importantly, the distrust of 3rd party payment processors has grown to a fevered pitch in the light of recent credit card information leaks from several major retailers such as Home Depot, Kmart, and more. Increasing amounts of users are realizing that the existing system of sign-and-swipe may leave their sensitive information vulnerable.
Many users are turning to industry-provided innovations such as Apple Pay and EMV chip-and-pin credit card transactions which are still not as secure as Bitcoin. However, as the world becomes more and more accustomed to using a smart phone to transmit (via NFC, Bluetooth, or QR code) encrypted push-transaction data, the use of digital currencies for day-to-day activities becomes less and less foreign and far-fetched.
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