Why Has Debit Grown So Quickly?

A heated debate is underway amongst our PYMNTS University scholars: What is principal factor driving consumer adoption of debit?

Many participants attribute the rapid rise of debit to its PIN security feature. Others believe the tumultuous economic times have resulted in consumers favoring debit over credit. Some even believe the debit’s “cashback” option at the point of sale is the main cause.

We wanted to invite the rest of our readers to join the PYMNTS University participants in this academic discussion. Check out some of the responses below and feel to add your own!  

Question: What have been the strongest drivers of consumer adoption of debit over the past 10 years? Why has it grown so quickly?

“The Debit Card is the greatest financial invention since the advent of paper checks. In fact, the replacement of check-writing at the grocery store checkout was the first usage that I remember getting excited about (in the early 1990’s), and it felt like a god-send.

Since then, the ubiquitous acceptance of debit cards (along with other electronic methods) has also allowed me to stop using cash for most everyday purchases, and I haven’t written a check since 2008.

I believe that the main reason for the popularity is the fact that money (in the broadest sense) became non-physical a long time ago, and it simply makes sense for consumers to exchange value in the same electronic way that the banks do.” Chuck Phipps, AAP, CTP


“More recently, it has been clearly the Great Recession impacting accelerating usage of debit since 2007.

Having been in the credit card industry for the last 24 years, in hindsight, seeing the transition from credit cards used for their original purpose…that being unsecured lines of credit to make purchases…to being used for everyday spending…was a dangerous play that has burned many.

The convenience of paying with plastic will not go away. But to live within ones means, an old concept, is now back in vogue and has been the driver of the hockey-stick growth of debit in the past three years, rapidly accelerating what had been a pleasant, gradual, growth over the previous decade.” Montana Tom


“Also, you can get cashback with a debit card for no charge at the same place where you are shopping without a visit to an ATM or any ATM charges.” John W.


“Individuals using debit cards along with a PIN are feeling a higher level of comfort from fraud.” Kevin C.


“Debit cards allow consumers to pay regular household bills and see the funds removed from their account as soon as the authorization is approved. No longer do you have to wait until the power company gets around to processing your check, or worse yet, finding out a week later that it was “lost in the mail”.

You can also use the debit card anywhere, any time, where if you are travelling out of states, some businesses will not accept an out of state check.” Monica


Related Content


Debit 101 Lesson 1: Debit Landscape

Driving Payments Innovation through Education- PYMNTS University

Debit 101 Lesson 2: Debit Evolution

Debit 101 Lesson 3: Debit Implications