The Rise of Mobile Payment Apps

Mobile payment apps are entering the mainstream as consumers seek to make transactions safer and more convenient during the pandemic. As mobile payment apps continue to rise in popularity, tech companies, payments technology brands, banks, retailers, and more are all looking for ways to corner their share of this growing market. This week we surveyed our audience to learn which mobile payment apps they’re using most often, how often they’re doing so, and what they value most in these services. From Cash App to PayPal, the apps discussed in this survey span the three major mobile payment categories: peer to peer payments (P2P), mobile commerce, and mobile proximity payments. 


Survey Respondents

November 19, 2020

Do you use any form of mobile payment?


of Americans use mobile payment apps.

Circle graph showing 45% of Americans use mobile pay apps

Millennials are most likely to use mobile payment apps.

A bar graph comparing the use of mobile pay apps among different generations

Which mobile payment apps do you use most frequently?

In terms of popularity, Cash App (42%) and PayPal (41%) have a significant lead over other mobile payment apps.

A bar graph comparing the mobile pay apps most frequently used

Older generations are more likely to use PayPal and Zelle, while younger generations are more likely to use Cash App and Venmo.

A bar graph showing which mobile pay apps each generation uses the most.

How does your current mobile payment behavior compare to this time last year?

33% of Americans are using mobile payment apps more frequently now vs. this time last year.

A circle graph comparing respondents current use of mobile payments compares to this time last year

Younger generations are more likely to have increased their mobile payment behavior, with millennials leading this increase (55%).

A bar graph comparing each generations year over year usage of mobile pay apps

How frequently do you use mobile payment apps?

Americans are largely using mobile payment apps on a monthly basis (36%).

A circle graph comparing how frequently Americans use mobile pay apps.

Compared to older Americans, Gen Zers and millennials are more likely to use mobile payment apps daily.

A bar graph comparing how frequently each generation says they use mobile pay apps.

What do you value most in a mobile payment app?

Almost half of consumers who use mobile payment apps value convenience above all else (49%), followed by the ability to make contactless payments (12%) and go cashless (10%).

A circle graph breaking down what Americans value most in a mobile payment app.

Compared to other generations:

  • Gen Zers are most likely to value rewards and discounts as well as minimal transaction fees.
  • Baby boomers are most likely to value the ability to make contactless payments.
  • Millennials and Gen Xers are most likely to use a mobile payment app if their friends and family also use it.
A bar graph comparing what each generation values in a mobile pay app.

What prevents you from using mobile payment apps?

Those who don't use mobile payment apps largely prefer using cash (45%) or are concerned about data security (24%).

A circle graph asking what prevents Americans from using mobile pay apps.

Younger generations are more likely to prefer using cash, while older generations are more concerned about data security.

A bar graph comparing reasons why each generations doesn't use mobile pay apps

Would you be more inclined to use a mobile payment app if you received holiday rewards and promotions?


of Americans would be more inclined to use a mobile payment app if they received holiday rewards and promotions.

37% of Americans would be more inclined to use mobile pay apps if they received holiday rewards and promos.

Gen Xers and baby boomers would be most likely to use a mobile payment app that offered holiday rewards.

A bar graph illustrating Gen Xers and baby boomers would be most likely to use a mobile payment app that offered holiday rewards.

Key Takeaways for Marketers

With the rise of contactless payment, COVID-19 continues to change the way people shop.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt daily life for many Americans, making the need for seamless shopping experiences more important than ever. With mobile payment apps offering a fast and easy way to request and send payments, it is no surprise that one third of Americans are using these apps more frequently now versus this time last year. Beyond the convenience factor, consumers are also in search of safer ways to shop – driving an increase in demand for contactless payment options offered by apps like Google Pay and Apple Pay.

Rewards and loyalty programs are a key feature driving the adoption of mobile payment apps.

Mobile payment providers can leverage rewards and loyalty programs to stand out from the competition, encourage adoption, and drive continuous use of their app. Compared to other generations, Gen Zers are most likely to value incentives like rewards and discounts (17%), while Gen Xers and baby boomers would be more inclined to start using mobile payment apps if offered special promotions this holiday season. Retailers are also helping to boost this momentum by offering cashback and rewards of their own to customers that opt to use mobile payment methods.

For some consumers, data security trumps convenience in the mobile payment arena.

While mobile payment apps offer a level ease and convenience, concerns around data privacy make some consumers reluctant to share information tied to their personal finances. Compared to Gen Zers and millennials, U.S. consumers over age 40 are much more likely to cite data security concerns as a factor preventing them from using mobile payment apps today. Mobile payment providers can gain favor among this age group by enforcing strict data security measures that help to build a sense of trust and ultimately validate the safety of their platforms.

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How is this data collected?

‘Fluent Pulse’ reflects a daily online survey collected across Fluent’s portfolio of owned & operated websites.

Who is the audience?

Fluent attracts a massive audience across its network of owned media properties. While all segments of the US population are represented, the below are our most prevalent demographic skews:

Demographic Attribute Over Penetrated Among
Age Median: 38

61% between the age of 18 & 44

Gender 50/50 Male/Female
Education High School Degree or Some College
Homeownership 61% Renters
Households with Children 42% of Audience

How many people were surveyed?

On average, 150,000 – 175,000 consumers respond daily.

Is the data weighted?

No, but representative of the overall Fluent Audience.

How do you protect consumers data privacy?

All responses related to this survey are anonymized; only survey responses will be disclosed. At no point will consumer’s personal information will ever be disclosed.

What was your methodology?

Data has been collected from U.S. adults on a daily or weekly basis, dependent upon topic, since March 10, 2020. All data is sourced from Fluent’s portfolio of owned and operated media properties. Results are specific to the Fluent audience and not reflective of the general U.S. population.

The data presented on this site does not reflect the official opinion, policy or position of Fluent, Inc. This research is only meant to inform and illustrate, as an example, the rich data assets Fluent can derive insights from to drive in-market strategies.