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U.S. consumers ‘feel the spend’ more on mobile than with credit cards, study shows

Deutsche Bank data show only 36% of Americans say their purchases “sink in” when using digital wallets; 43% say the same for cards


New data from Deutsche Bank indicates that paying with a digital wallet can make consumers “feel the spend” more than with credit cards.

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Much has been written about the human phenomenon in which paying for something with cash makes the spender feel the financial impact of their purchase more than if they use a plastic card.

Indeed, paying for as many things with cash as possible is a common piece of advice from personal finance experts focused on helping people reduce their spending and debt.

But new data from Deutsche Bank indicates that paying with a digital wallet can also make consumers “feel the spend” more than with credit cards, although perhaps to a lesser degree.

In surveys with 3,600 consumers across the U.S., U.K., China, Germany, France and Italy, Deutsche Bank asked adults how much the amount of their credit card purchases sinks in, then asked the same for digital wallet purchases.

See related: How to clean your credit card

Among U.S. respondents, 43% agreed that they tend to think less about the amount they spend when using a card. But for digital wallet purchases, only 36% felt their purchase amount was less noticed.

Among the European countries in the survey, the results were generally similar, except in Germany, where consumers reported that their spending registered equally for cards and digital wallets. But in France, Italy and the U.K., the trend of noticing digital wallet purchase amounts more than card purchase amounts generally mirrored the U.S. findings.

The general theory presented for this by Deutsche Bank is that the less familiar customers are with a payment technology, such as digital wallets, the more they tend to think about how much they spend. In contrast, card transactions are a well-ingrained payment method among European and American consumers.

Deutsche Bank’s findings come from its second in a series of three surveys on the future of payments. Part II results were released Jan. 23.

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