Mobile Wallet Generations: Millennials and Gen Z

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When was the last time you encountered a teenager or young adult who didn’t own a smartphone? With the release of the first iPhone in 2007, and various other devices thereafter, smartphones make up one of key markers of the 21st century. And it’s no surprise that millennials have been the fastest generation to adopt this technology as a part of their daily lives. From the boom of the internet to the growth of giants like Google, Facebook, and Amazon, millennials have witnessed the birth of some of today’s most influential companies. And, as young people often are, they were quick to jump on the bandwagon and excited to be a part of the next big thing.

As the tech industry flourished, the popularization of smartphones and other handheld devices introduced a whole new way of life. For the first time, tasks as diverse as ordering food, getting a ride, paying a credit card bill, or shopping for a new pair of jeans could be done from the palm of your hand. Inevitably, the growth of the mobile wallet was to follow. Convenience, speed, and safety are just three of the reasons millennials have been adopting mobile wallets (such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay) as their preferred way to pay for goods and services.

Millennials are all about the new and improved. They want the most convenient, modern way to do everything, especially something they do as frequently as making purchases. This is noteworthy to brands because millennials are currently the largest demographic in the US. They make up about 90 million people and are anticipated to be the highest-earning generation by 2025. Brands are eager to meet the millennial demand for more engagement, convenience, and ease--all of which can be done through the mobile wallet.  

While millennials currently make the most purchases via their mobile devices, Gen Z is not far behind, and they have even greater potential. Millennials can be considered the internet generation, but Gen Z is the smartphone generation. The majority of millennials (ages 24 - 38) were already teens or young adults when smartphones became popular, but Gen Z-ers were born during the mobile technology boom so they have never known a world without it. Because of this, today’s teens and young adults are even more receptive to new mobile technology as it has always been an essential part of their lives. Heavily engaged in mobile platforms such as Starbucks order-ahead, Uber or Lyft, shopping apps, peer-to-peer payments, and mobile banking, Gen Z already views the smartphone as a way to make purchases and manage their finances. In fact, as Gen Z grows into the college and job markets, they are likely to outpace millennials in their use of mobile banking. And if more young people feel comfortable banking on their phones, they will be paying with their phones, too.

Overall, both millennials and Gen-Z are key participants in the mobile wallet revolution, and they haven’t even reached their fullest potential. Today, you can’t find a young person without a smartphone. In the years to come, you won’t find one that’s not using their smartphone’s mobile wallet.

Ariana Alessandri