While the pandemic has accelerated the trend towards digital payments, some say it might not last.
A study from Amadeus reveals that 84% of travelers now pay via non-cash methods such as contactless or mobile.
The figure is supported by findings from the IMF showing that, when it comes to use of cash, there has been four year’s of digital payment transformation in the past nine months.
However, more than half of respondents (55%) say they will return to cash payments once the COVID-19 risk has diminished.
Travelers cite a desire to know how much they are spending as the reason to return to cash with foreign exchange fees and hidden costs highlighted as uncertainties.
Almost a third (32%) say card payments are too expensive to use abroad and the same number cite concerns around card fraud as a reason for returning to cash.
Further findings of the Amadeus Travel Payments Guide 2020, carried out with local payments specialist PPRO, reveals that 14% of travelers will abandon a purchase if contactless options are not available.
Respondents saying contactless cards used as the main payment method at attractions and activities has increased by 25%.
Other payment options are also increasing with the number of respondents saying mobile payments is their main method for attractions and activities, up by 17%.
More widely, travelers are seeking a broad range of payment methods according to the research.
For example, 37% say non-card or e-wallets options, are the most important factor when booking a travel-related service.
In addition, 24% say a buy-now-pay-later option is also important for travel-related services.
This payment option is particularly popular in Asia Pacific with more than a fifth of travelers saying they’ve used it, rising to 44% of travelers from China.
The study also looks at the benefits of real-time payments for businesses such as improved cashflow but says companies may be reticent about adopting them.
Reasons cited for the reluctance include existing incentives from credit card companies, the ability to protect customer cash at the moment and the need to move to new technologies to enable real-time payments.
The survey of 6000 travelers, which can be downloaded here, was completed in December 2020.