Dynamic and disruptive, millennials are one of the most powerful economic forces driving the market. Accenture estimates that millennials currently spend about $600 billion a year and will grow to $1.4 trillion annually and represent 30% of total retail sales. They're the archetypal connected consumer, uniquely positioned to embrace the momentous technological advancements that the payments industry is deploying on a near-daily basis.
Let's take a look at how millennials are changing the face of commerce in four critical ways:
Millennials don't have cash in their pockets, but that doesn't mean they won't occasionally need to split a check or pay back a friend. They've found their answer in peer-to-peer payments. A 2014 Nielsen report found that 18-to-34 year olds account for more than 50 percent of those who use payment apps. Paypal's peer to peer lending app, Venmo, has already carved out a niche among younger consumers in the US, processing $2.1 billion in just the third quarter of 2015.
Bitcoin has been the domain of millennials from the early beginnings of digital currencies, with more than 56% of users between ages 19-35. Bitcoin is global, secure, and quick, which makes it especially appealing to fast-paced millennials. As this demographic explores payment options beyond traditional banking and currency models to embrace alternatives, retailers will want to explore and understand new forms of payment acceptance.
As one of the first generations to grow up with mobile technology, millennials are smartphone natives by now and have high expectations for what they can accomplish with their phones. As smartphones continue to replace gadgets like cameras and GPS navigators and become primary devices for communication and shopping, they open up enormous potential for payments technology. A recent study from Payfirma found that 62% of millennials would be comfortable connecting their payment information to an app from a retailer or service they frequently use, and that 44% of millennials would rather use their mobile phone than cash to pay for smaller items.
There's no doubt that millennials make demanding consumers. Many are veteran bargain-hunters who seek out creative rewards like secret sales, daily deals, and customized offers. According to a 2015 Nielsen report, a third of millennials make purchases only when they have a coupon or promotional code. These incentives serve an important purpose: they build consumer loyalty. The way to keep millennials coming back to your store--whether it's brick-and-mortar or online--is to let them know your brand is looking out for them. Luckily, mobile wallets make rewards programs a snap.
Millennials are quick to take on any technology that can make their lives more convenient. They have grown up in a technology-enriched environment and demand a streamlined experience. Fortunately, the payments industry is evolving to meet their needs, deploying technologies that make commerce more seamless, safe, fun and rewarding.