A Reported Decline in Debit Card Use is Bad News for Merchants

by Sarah Grotta 0

Hand of woman paying with contactless credit card with NFC technology, finance concept

A survey report highlighted in USA Today surmises that consumers are leaving their debit cards behind in favor of credit cards and online banking.

Debit card use is declining in the U.S., according to new report from ValuePenguin. Since 2013, the percentage of households that use debit cards has dropped from 74 percent to 58 percent, in favor of alternative payment methods, such as credit cards and online/mobile banking. Almost a third more households pay with credit now compared to five years ago.

New Jersey, Connecticut and Hawaii are among the states that have seen the sharpest decreases in debit card usage. South Carolina and North Dakota have seen the least change: Only 4 percent of households there have stopped using debit.

It’s unclear what aspect of online/mobile banking is causing consumers to cut up their debit cards.  If they are referencing payment apps that are often included in a financial institution’s digital product offering, I consider that is form factor for a debit or credit card, not a replacement.

The report does provide further commentary around the rich rewards available with credit cards that have enticed a lot of former debit card users. If this finding is correct, then that suggests that the premise of Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act which was to provide less expensive payment processing options for merchants has been un-done. If so many consumers have moved their payment habits to credit cards for the rewards, then merchants are now paying unregulated (or less regulated) interchange levels on the majority of their transactions.

Overview by Sarah Grotta, Director, Debit and Alternative Products Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group

Featured Content