US Financial Institutions and Digital Payments: Digital Research Panel Series Part 3

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22 January 2016


This is the third of a series of reports based on Celent's Digital Research Panel. Celent surveyed 42 panelists about their priorities and experience to date in digital payments.

In Celent’s first Digital Panel, banks and credit unions prioritized digital payments as a key area for further exploration. Furthermore, October 2015 had two important milestones in US payments: the one-year anniversary for Apple Pay, and the liability shift deadline for EMV. As a result, our third Digital Panel focuses on digital payments. The survey was administered in November 2015.

Selected key findings of the report include:

  • Most participants recognize the importance of digital payments, but invest only to be fast followers and to stay on par with the competition.
  • Becoming and staying top of wallet dominates the participants’ concerns about digital payments. The participants are also worried about Apple and other technology giants changing strategy and taking on a more dominant role in digital payments.
  • Most financial institutions believe they should offer digital payments under their own brand. Yet, in practice, they are more likely to engage around third party wallets than explore their own Host Card Emulation (HCE) wallets. However, they do push forward with peer-to-peer (P2P) solutions, with 51% having an offering in production.
  • Visa Checkout and MasterPass have seen limited traction among the survey participants so far, but as many as 31% of respondents consider participating in CurrentC.
  • Only the most optimistic 6% expect more than 20% of in-store transactions initiated via mobile in three years, but 42% expect to get there in five years.
  • 29% of survey participants finished migrating all credit cards to EMV, while 17% are done with debit. However, many others are just starting with debit and prepaid: 71% of respondents migrated less than 20% of their debit and prepaid cards.
  • 63% of the responding credit unions replaced their credit cards as “big bang” (i.e., all at once), compared to 35% of banks. Accelerated migration is the dominant EMV strategy for debit cards, while prepaid cards tend to be replaced at expiry.

“It is clear that digital payments are very important to many financial institutions,” says Zilvinas Bareisis, a senior analyst with Celent’s Banking group and coauthor of the report. “However, it appears to be an area in which many are struggling to determine how much and where to invest. Banks and credit unions should look where customers are experiencing most friction today, as it is an area where the financial institutions will be most vulnerable to attack from third parties. They should also accelerate EMV migration, especially for debit cards, to free up resources for digital payments.”

This 36-page report contains 20 figures.

Celent created the Research Panel to examine financial institutions’ attitudes, progress, objectives, and priorities around Digital. We recruited panelists from our client base and from industry contacts (respondents do not have to be Celent clients to participate). Celent is accepting additional requests for membership in the panel and expects to field ongoing research through 2016 with surveys roughly every other month. If you’re a banker and would like to participate in future Digital Panels, please click here to fill out a short application.