70% of Consumers Opt for Instant Merchant Refunds If Given the Choice

72% of Consumers Would Pick Instant Refunds if Given the Choice

For most American consumers, disbursements — which include earnings and income payments, Social Security payments, tax refunds, insurance claim payouts and loan disbursements — remain an essential aspect of daily life.

The PYMNTS Intelligence study “Measuring Consumer Satisfaction With Instant Payouts” highlighted the importance of instant disbursements, including for consumers looking to borrow money. The study used insights from a survey of over 3,900 consumers across the United States to examine consumers’ growing interest in instant disbursements.

Based on the study’s results, among the 54% of consumers given the choice to receive their latest disbursement via instant payment rails, 72% ultimately chose instant payments.

Individuals receiving payouts for income and earnings showed an even higher preference for instant payments, at 77% on average. In specific cases, such as income and earnings disbursements for freelance, contract or consulting projects, the preference for instant payments was further pronounced at 81%.

Additionally, more than 60% of consumers who lacked an instant payment option expressed a desire for it if available, particularly those receiving tips from their employers. Specifically, 88% of consumers receiving tips from employers indicated they would have preferred instant payouts if given the choice. This underscored the unmet demand for instant disbursements, especially within the service industry, as detailed in separate PYMNTS research.

Similarly, the share of consumers who had the choice and selected instant for refunds related to services or for returned products (nearly 68%) was lower than the 72% who would have selected instant if given the choice, indicating a similar gap in the refunds space.

When it comes to how disbursements are made, they can be delivered through both instant and non-instant deposits to bank accounts, but consumers emphasized the importance of quick access to secure funds.

Seventy-four percent said they wanted to receive their disbursements via instant payments — a preference rooted in the assurance that not only will the payment be reliably delivered, but it will also reach them swiftly. In contrast, 65% shared a similar sentiment regarding non-instant payments.

Convenience is the second top priority for consumers favoring instant payment methods when receiving disbursements, at 69%, compared to 63% using non-instant methods. Interestingly, 42% of consumers equally appreciated the security provided by both instant and non-instant payments.

The report also found that instant payments not only increase consumer satisfaction by 11% but also nearly double the likelihood of them remaining as clients when free.

However, many were willing to pay a fee for this instant service, particularly when they found themselves in a financial bind. For example, individuals receiving payments for freelance, contract or consulting work, where incomes can be irregular, were most willing to pay a fee for instant payments (58%).

In contrast, only 22% of those receiving payouts for gig hospitality work were willing to incur a fee, indicating that the small nature of these payouts doesn’t make paying a fee seem worthwhile.

“As these receivers would benefit from free instant payouts, offering [that option] could serve as a way to retain employees,” the report noted.