Mobile Devices Take Center Stage in Consumer’s Everyday Transactions

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At one time, it seemed like only the most tech-forward or foolhardy were conducting financial transactions over smartphones, as they were then viewed as less secure than personal computers.

That sentiment began shifting as app purchases and similar activities “normalized” mobile financial transactions, which quickly became part of consumers’ daily online habits.

PCs have entirely lost this perceived security advantage, as indicated in the PYMNTS’ “Consumer Behaviors and Perceived Security Across Devices,” done in collaboration with Entersekt.

Across all selected online financial-related transactions, consumers finding PCs more secure than mobile devices are in the vast minority. Consumers are most liable to trust computers when spending or sending a large amount of money, and even so, just 27% said they believe desktops or laptops are more secure than smartphones when doing so.

The mobile-first mindset is being led by younger generations, as 71% of Generation Z’ers and 68% of millennials used smartphones most for transactions in the 30 days before being surveyed. While most baby boomers and seniors continue to prefer PCs, 53% had used a smartphone to send or receive money from family and friends during the same period.

This behavioral shift from PCs to smartphones for transactions has come alongside a push toward mobile platforms in consumers’ daily lives. Additional PYMNTS research has found that non-grocery retail purchases made via mobile devices increased by 49% between December 2021 and March 2023, for example. During the same period, grocery purchases made over mobile increased by 35%.

Comparatively, consumers decreased their use of PCs for grocery purchases, from 7% in December 2021 to 6.4% in March, down from 7%. Additionally, consumers used computers for 17% of non-grocery retail purchases, down from 21% during the same period.

Smartphone preference may also partially be behind decreasing PC purchases. Sales have been falling since the second quarter of 2022, with demand dropping 16% last year and forecasted to slip another 7% in 2023. The prediction seems so far to have been more optimistic than based in reality, with PC shipments falling 29% year over year in Q1 2023 in what’s being termed a “precipitous drop.”

While PCs will most likely never fully go the way of the dot matrix printer, consumers are increasingly shifting into a mobile-first mindset. As smartphones and similar devices become preferred for everyday transactions, consumer-facing businesses and organizations may keep this inclination in mind while planning their long-term digital strategies.