Travelers turning to digital payments over cash

Cash is still the most popular payment method when people are traveling outside their country. A study found that 77 percent of travelers still prefer to rely on cash.

However, the study also claims that the use of cash is increasingly causing anxiety and stress, with the loss or theft of cash a top concern.
One reason for this is that many people still feel they need to carry more cash abroad than they would generally be comfortable with. Almost three-quarters of travellers (72%) said they keep the foreign currency they will need before leaving.
On an average traveler spends $1,793 per trip, and many will not top up their cash once they arrive. Just 1 person in 10 makes an ATM withdrawal at their destination; with nearly 20 percent of travellers take the security of ATMs in unfamiliar locations as a barrier.
There is also the question of what to do with remaining cash. Despite the fact that spending outpaces the amount of cash taken, almost 9 in 10 travelers (87 percent) still have cash left over after their trip. Less than one-third convert it back into their home currency, which means many are left with significant amounts of unused cash.
Lessons for the payments industry
Changing travel trends may also have an impact on people's attitudes to cash. Visa's survey found that overseas trips are on the rise, with respondents planning an average of 2.7 foreign trips over the next two years, up from 2.5 during the previous two years.
While Visa certainly has a vested interest in promoting the use of card payments among travelers, the survey highlights the importance of providing payments choice to tourists and business travelers alike.
Some debit, credit and prepayment cards, for example, now allow users to pay in local currency, thereby avoiding hidden fees and benefiting from more competitive exchange rates.
But options for payments when on vacation may not be limited to credit and debit cards. Tools such as mobile and contactless are increasingly popular options, and people will expect to be able to use these when abroad just as they would at home.
Indeed, Visa found that travelers are increasingly relying on technology when in foreign countries, with 88 percent of respondents gaining online access while abroad, up from 78 percent in 2015.
With 44 percent using ride-sharing apps to get around once they reach their destination, for example, there is no reason to think that payments will be any different.
Cash isn’t going anywhere for travelers, with its convenience and ubiquity it can be particularly useful when people are in unfamiliar locations. But with mobile and digital options gaining popularity around the world, we can expect more people to rely on these payment methods when traveling outside their home country.


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