The Cashless Culture: Are We There Yet?

Hill Holliday Study Explores the Future of Cashless Commerce

Consumers and Brands Still Have a Long Way to Go

Despite advances in mobile payments, 55% hate the idea of life without cash; and cash is still the #1 way to pay friends and family back

BOSTON--()--Under the mattress, in your phone or through your fingerprint? How close are we to adopting a cashless culture? In a new research study, Cashless Culture, the Marketer’s Guide to the Emerging Cashless Consumer, conducted by Origin, Hill Holliday’s independent research arm, consumers grapple with the future of cash, cards, mobile, and everything in between. The findings represent significant insights into the grocery, retail and restaurant categories in particular.

The Cashless Culture study is based on the views of over 1000 diverse, qualified smartphone users, 18 years of age and older, varying in age, sex, and geographic location.

The study examines current preferences, habits, and attitudes among US consumers about going cashless and cardless, including adoption rates and barriers for mobile and app-based payments, and the attitudes that still remain for both consumers and businesses in their attachment to cash. Unsurprisingly, younger consumers are leading the way in mobile wallet and app-based payments such as Apple Pay or Venmo, but they remain uncommitted. And businesses are pushing back on accepting mobile payments due to costs, tech adoption and perceived lack of interest among consumers.

As part of the research, Hill Holliday also conducted a deprivation study with 10 adults, who agreed to “go cashless” for a week and record their experiences. The results were surprising, shining light on the social pressure aspect of mobile and app-based payments: “I asked if the restaurant accepted mobile payments and the waitress looked at me disapprovingly,” said one participant. Spoiler alert: every participant cheated.

The complete study can be found HERE. Among the compelling data points:

Cash and Cards Are Far From Dead

  • 76% still carry cash daily
  • 55% hate the idea of life without cash

We’re Still New at Mobile Payments, But Younger Consumers are Leading the Way

  • 58% of those using mobile payments have only started in the past year
  • 45% of those over 40 have never used mobile payments; while 22% of those under 40 use it daily

Significant Barriers to Going Cashless Remain:

  • 45% say there is no reason to use mobile payments
  • 63% say clear and consistent visual cues around mobile payment options are needed at P.O.P.

“We were really surprised how attached to cash the average consumer still is,” said Katherine Schilling, Strategy Director for Hill Holliday and a key driver of the study. “The user experience isn’t quite there yet for mobile and app-based payments, and many businesses still struggle with the transaction technology. Another surprise: social pressures surrounding cashless payment were a recurring theme. Brands still have a lot to learn about which consumers will go cashless, and how they can help them get there.”

About Hill Holliday
Fighting the daily share battle in the noisiest categories. It’s what we do. Hill Holliday is proud to be one of the top creative marketing agencies in the country, with over 400 employees across our network. Since 1968, we’ve built our business on winning that daily share battle for our clients in the noisiest and most competitive categories. Blending superior creative, media, and technology, we deliver game-changing ideas for industry leaders like Bank of America, Optum, Boar’s Head, Tempur Sealy International, Party City, Capella University, Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, Simple Mobile, Frontier Communications, and Cracker Barrel. For more about our people, our work, and our culture, please visit

About Origin
Origin is a market research company specializing in applied psychological and data sciences, owned by Hill Holliday. Staffed by survey methodologists, consumer psychologists, and data strategists, Origin brings a rigorous set of methods to help solve any business challenge. While Origin has a strong foundation in traditional market research methods, they are also pioneering new analytics techniques that merge market research with machine learning and pattern recognition tools. This allows Origin to augment any survey research with additional data sources to help triangulate deeper and more powerful insights. To find out more, visit us at


Tracy Brady
SVP Communications, Hill Holliday

Release Summary

Hill Holliday Study Explores the Future of Cashless Commerce, Consumers and Brands Still Have a Long Way to Go


Tracy Brady
SVP Communications, Hill Holliday