Age: 20
Location: United States
Occupation: Business major/part-time server

He’s a student by day, part-time super-server by night, and happy for cash tips that fund his hearty appetite. A business major at State College, Luis leads a “build-a-startup” team that routinely meets over pizza and pop. After doing some work on their business plan, the team hones their competitive skills playing video games.


Age: 18
Location: Italy
Occupation: Full-time music student

She and her mother nearly passed out with the news of Emilia’s acceptance to the National Academy of St. Cecilia. It’s Emilia’s dream to perform at the Rome Opera House, but she’ll settle for the typical gig of singing on boat tours with a troupe after graduation. Emilia and her girlfriends let off steam by bargain-hunting for second-hand performance gowns.


Age: 21
Location: Australia
Occupation: Massage therapy student/part-time trainer

Ethan juggles his studies in massage therapy with part-time gigs as a trainer to help with household expenses he shares with his roommate in South Brisbane. It’s hard for Ethan to make ends meet, but the strapped university student still rationalizes getaways to North Stradbroke Island for surf and a sunbake.


Age: 23
Location: Argentina
Occupation: Full-time science major

A serious student at the National Technology University campus in Santa Cruz, Argentina, Sofia lives at home with her close-knit family and helps out by assembling lamps for their illumination business. Sofia combines her passion for science and football by selling t-shirts on social media to support STEM-for-Girls.

Gen Z

18 to 23 years old

Gen Z members are transitioning from school to the workforce around the world. Their access to payment options varies based on their financial means, which, in turn, ultimately limits how they pay. Those living off the parental dole are often unbanked/underbanked and rely heavily on cash and alternative financial services. Banked Gen Z members opt for mobile banking.

Technologically Savvy Financially Inexperienced


use mobile wallets, and another large percentage would like access to them

Gen Z members lean on friends and social media for advice. Technology influences how they shop, what they buy and how they pay.

Cash is their common currency now, but look for Gen Z members to migrate to digital as they enter adulthood.

Gen Z - A day in the life: Grocery shopping

"Cash is cumbersome.
I prefer to use my debit card whenever I can."

Grocery Shopping

unpredictable schedules translate into quick trips

Luis’ and Emilia’s unpredictable schedules translate into quick trips for only a few items to fill near-term needs. In contrast, Ethan shops for the week when it’s his turn to buy. Sofia still lives at home, where parents pay for family groceries. Let’s see how this plays out.


After class, Luis dashes through the grocery aisles to resupply his fridge with pop, frozen pizza and snacks to motivate his “build-a-startup” teammates. He types in his phone number on the keypad to get discounts and dips his debit card.

35% prefer to pay for groceries in cash
18% use credit cards
14% use debit cards

Interested in learning how COVID impacted consumer behavior? Learn more.

Did you know?

In Argentina, where Sophia lives


of Gen Z members prefer to pay in cash

Gen Z members are more likely to pay for groceries in cash in contrast to all other generations. If not cash, debit cards vie with credit cards, but combined, they don't quite equal the percentage of cash payments.

Gen Z members and millennials lead the digital payment charge. Older generations – Gen X, baby boomers and beyond boomers – continue to dip cards at checkout.


Booking adventures On credit/debit cards

Destination: Evergreen, Colorado
Payment methods: Credit/Debit cards
With the Gen Con gaming convention in Indianapolis on hold, Luis and his buddy sign up for a fly fishing package in Colorado. Provided with all the gear he needs to catch a trout, Luis prepays for the tour and a cabin in Evergreen with his credit card. Nearing his limit, Luis reaches for his debit card for airfare.
Destination: North Island, New Zealand
Payment methods: Debit card
Ethan has been itching to hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand, reported to be the best day hike in the world. He and his tramping mate book their trip, rent a campervan and pay for provisions all with their debit cards.
Destination: Panama City, Panama
Payment methods: Credit card/cash
Sofia books a flight to Panama with her mother’s credit card for the women’s football league playoffs. She reimburses madre with cash while her traveling partner uses a prepaid card for booking travel. Staying with an ex-pat friend, the group checks out a popular bar, where they pay in cash for food and fun.
Did you know?

About one-third


of Gen Z members uses credit cards for trips

Like most travelers, more Gen Z members book adventures with a credit card than any other method, but they are still less likely than any other generation to charge travel on credit cards.

About one-third (31%) of Gen Z uses credit cards for trips compared with nearly half of Gen Xers, baby boomers and beyond boomers. Debit cards/prepaid cards and cash tie for Gen Z’s second choice of payment.

58% of U.S. consumers postponed big events, trips or major purchases in 2020 due to COVID-19.


Free Shipping Seals the Deal

Luis regularly purchases games online from a retailer that keeps his card on file. Lately, he’s buying a broader array of goods online, espcecially technology products. Free shipping is a “must.”

“Membership sites are worth it to me since I buy so much online, especially now.”


Emilia keeps her card on file for online purchases, such as her music subscriptions. Her go-to alternative for resale items – especially for trading old performance gowns for new ones on peer-to-peer apps – is a payment app.

“I like that online stores save my card info. It makes checkout way easier.”
Did you know?
84% have digital subscriptions, rivaling millennials’ subscription rates.
58% subscribe to video streaming.
53% subscribe to music.


With a deep-seated aversion to tracking down merchandise in-store, Ethan shops almost exclusively online – even for groceries. He registers his debit card with trusted e-commerce retailers.

“I shop online to avoid wasting time in stores but only from retailers I know and trust with my card information.”


Sofia buys blank t-shirts for her fundraising from an online shirt company that she found through social media. A loan from her mother’s credit card finances her materials, for which Sofia repays in cash. She would shop online more often if it weren’t so expensive to convert her pesos into prepaid.

64% have made a purchase based on something seen on social media
Did you know?
30% prefer to use credit cards for online purchases.
17% use debit cards/prepaid cards.
14% use mobile wallets.
11% prefer to keep their card on file.

Some e-commerce retailers are successfully building their brands with Gen Z through card-on-file registration – adopted by 11%. In Australia, nearly one-fifth (19%) prefer to use direct debit/autopay for online purchases.

Gen Z members with credit cards are more likely to use them online than in-store shopping – 30% vs. 21%. Still, they aren’t avid credit card users compared with other generations. Fourteen percent of Gen Z online shoppers prefer mobile wallets.

Pundits proclaim that Gen Z will transform online shopping via social media influence. Nearly two-thirds (64%) have already made a purchase based on something seen on social media. What will drive this transformation further? Easy-to-access digital payments.

23% of Canadians aged 18-24 reported spending more online for clothing and footwear during COVID. Learn more.

Dining out

Cash is king, but new tech is more fun

Eating out, buying new clothes, and subscribing to digital content are three leading ways that Gen Z spends disposable income.

Luis has a date and debates where to dine – where he works and gets discounts or somewhere far from snoopy co-workers. He selects the employer option, not just for the deal, but also to impress his date by making a contactless payment with his smart watch. How cool is that?

Learn more on how meal paying differs by country through our insights report.

“I usually pay with cash, but paying with my smart watch is way more fun.”

Dining out

Emilia and her troupe reward themselves for a performance that produced a smile from their despotic conductor. The group dines at their favorite sushi restaurant, where they get a discount for making an online reservation. Emila pays with a card, and her friends reimburse her with a P2P app.

33% of Canadians tried a new-to-them delivery service during COVID.

35% prefer to pay their tabs in cash
18% use credit cards
14% use debit cards/prepaid cards

“It’s always a pain to split the bill, but using apps make it easy.”

Did you know?

Credit cards – less favored by Gen Z – represent their most common cash alternative, followed by debit cards and different digital options. In contrast, Gen X, baby boomers and beyond boomers remain tethered to their credit cards for paying their tabs.



Luis mostly shops online these days, but he’s grateful for in-store assistance when he buys running shoes to compensate for the dreaded foot pronation. Luis pulls out his mobile wallet at the shoe store.

Take the hassle out of tracking rewards

Aspiring diva-hood gets expensive, especially during recital season. Emilia explores neighborhood second-hand mom-and-pop shops for deals on performance gowns, which sell at a discount for cash payment. She also shops at chain stores that offer loyalty programs with apps that track her rewards.

Ease of wayfinding is critical

Ethan often waits until online shopping is no longer an option to buy holiday and birthday presents. He’ll only shop well-stocked stores where he can easily find what he’s after. Although he prefers to pay contactless with his mobile device, he’ll settle for his debit card to get what he wants.

Learn more about generational differences through our country insights.

41% rank good stock among the top 3 important factors

Sofia and her girlfriends drive to Buenos Aires semi-annually to shop at the mall. Its selection of apparel brands seems endless, and Sofia can count on getting more unique gifts in the big city. Parting with most of her cash, Sofia claims success.

30% prefer to use cash in-store
21% use credit cards
14% use debit cards
Did you know?

Gen Z uses cash for in-store purchases more often than older generations. In contrast, other segments are more likely than Gen Z to pay with a credit card.

Emerging signs of digital payment use by Gen Z and millennials signal movement away from cash – with some skipping over plastic. Given Gen Z’s above-average signup rates for loyalty programs, rewards hold one key to migrating Gen Z away from paper. What Gen Z wants in loyalty – along with millennials – is an app that tracks their spending and rewards, not a plastic card.


digital to the rescue

Luis settles up with teammate Charlie for his share of the pizza that he inhaled during their “build-a-business” meeting. He pulls out his mobile phone, accesses his favorite P2P app, and pays Charlie in real time.

Emilia subscribes to digital music and video streaming services. She has digital wallet on file for payment for subscriptions. Claiming her unrelenting schedule as the excuse for ignoring her credit card bill, she finds herself up against the deadline. Just before late fees kick in and her credit score suffers, Emilia settles up with her mobile banking app.

39% prefer to settle up with friends in cash
9% use debit/prepaid cards
9% use a bank transfer

It’s time for Ethan to pay for his tuition and his share of this month’s rent. But his tramping vacation has left him short on funds. Ethan uses his bank’s P2P app to pay his roommate for rent. He then negotiates with the massage school he attends for a payment plan paid back over three months via a direct transfer from his bank account.

Cold hard cash expensive for the unbanked

Sofia’s tuition also is due, which her mother pays with her credit card. As a lab assistant, Sofia gets a stipend in the form of checks, which she has to pay to cash. Most of the time, Sofia just signs her checks over to her mother and crosses her fingers that Madre will give her some pesos in return.

8% use mobile wallets
5% use P2P
Did you know?

Banked members of Gen Z, along with millennials and Gen X to a lesser extent, most often manage banking with their mobile banking app. In contrast, baby boomers and beyond boomers still use computers to access their bank accounts. Fifty-seven percent of Gen Z members use their bank’s mobile app to manage their banking.

All generations usually pay back friends and family members with cold, hard cash. Those who reimburse friends through mobile wallet apps or prepaid cards are most likely Gen Z members or millennials.


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