Almost three-quarters (71%) of Australians say they now have access to more ways to pay than they did this time last year, according to the Mastercard New Payments Index: The Australia Forecast Report.

The shift to a digital shopfront alongside bricks and mortar purchases has led consumers to demand multiple payment options as they embrace contactless payments and omnichannel commerce.

From checking into venues through QR codes to businesses avoiding cash completely, there has been increased exposure and therefore acceleration of new and alternative payment methods.

Just under half (44%) of respondents said that they have tried new payment methods in the last year they wouldn’t have tried were it not for the pandemic. With so many choices available to them, nearly three-quarters (73%) of Australians said their preferred payment method changes based on the situation they are in.

Today consumers can pay with cryptocurrencies, biometric checkout, instalment plans and QR codes. Consumers’ excitement around biometrics is growing, led by younger consumers and those who have already opted into other touch-free methods.

Ease of use and security remain top of mind for Australians when considering their method of payment, with 52% saying that new payment methods like biometrics are more convenient. 42% said they feel safer using biometrics to verify a purchase than entering a pin.

There is still some hesitation in leveraging cryptocurrencies, with only 17% of Australians claiming to be comfortable with using it. However, intrigue is rising with almost one in two Australians (45%) expressing interest in learning more about cryptocurrency, and 44% of Australians being open to using it more if they understood it better.

The shift in payment methods has created an opportunity for retailers to increase the services they offer and build a stronger relationship with consumers. The Mastercard New Payments Index: The Australia Forecast Report reveals that 59% of Australian consumers are more loyal to retailers that offer multiple payment options.

Australians have made their preferences clear when it comes to how they want to pay for goods and services, according to Mastercard Australasia division president, Richard Wormald.

“Consumers expect choices that offer flexibility and security at every step of the way. If the last year has taught Australians anything when it comes to payments, it’s how secure and easy electronic payments can be. Merchants that provide access to multiple ways to shop and pay are best aligned to meet consumers’ needs,” he said.

The research also revealed that more (65%) Australians are open to using digital payment methods to help them save money, and over half say digital payment methods have already helped them save money (55%).

Although most Australians say they will consider using at least one emerging payment method in the future, security is still a top concern as 72% of this group are only open to trying if they feel the payment method is safe.

Consumer perceptions of strong security are highest among familiar payment methods such as cash, inserting a card or tapping a contactless card, while emerging technologies such as cryptocurrency, biometrics and mobile SMS, lag behind in consumers’ minds. It’s particulary important for merchants to offer secure digital payment options, with 89% of Australians needing assurance their data is safe before spending.

“Consumers have sent a clear message – they value greater choice, security, convenience, widespread acceptance and a seamless payment experience. In order to facilitate further adoption of digital payment technology, consumers need to be assured that their payments are safe and secure,” Wormald said.

“Merchant transparency when it comes to processing and protecting payments is integral to supporting a payment system that gives consumers the choice they value. Technology solutions such as tokenisation are game changers for retailers and consumers alike, offering a smoother and more secure shopping experience.”