2020 Expectations & Experiences: COVID-19 and Household Finances

Households and Financial Management:
What's Changed and What Hasn't

There's no doubt COVID-19 has had a significant impact on how people view their financial situations and how they choose to manage their money. There's a significant rise in contactless payments, for example, and many would need to incur debt to pay back a loan of $500. At the same time, interest in services like real-time access to financial information remains high – just as it was before the pandemic began.

This survey was conducted August 18–September 9, 2020 – after social distancing requirements and business closures had been lifted in many parts of the country. However, many people remain affected by COVID-19 in terms of their physical, financial and social health. For that reason, this survey looks at comparisons to our 2019 Expectations & Experiences: Household Finances survey, as well as the results of our Expectations & Experiences survey conducted in May 2020.

Times are tough for many consumers 

Only 50 percent of banking consumers say they could pay for a $500 emergency with at least some existing funds. On the flip side, 20 percent wouldn't use existing funds at all, saying they would need to charge it or borrow from friends or family, a bank or payday lender. Younger consumers have been hit hard by the pandemic in general with 29 percent of Gen Z and millennials and 25 percent of Gen X saying they've missed mortgage, rent or bill payments.

Survey questions to all respondents: Suppose that you have an emergency expense that costs $500. Based on your current financial situation, how would you pay for this expense? / As a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, have you or your household been impacted in any of the following ways?

Contactless payments continue to surge

Nearly three-fifths (58 percent) of consumers are interested in using card-based contactless payments, compared to only 38 percent last year. Meanwhile 43 percent have used a tap-and-pay method – either via card or mobile. 

Survey questions to all respondents: Are you interested in using the below tap-and-pay methods of payment? / Have you ever used a contactless payment method? 

People are changing their use of financial tools 

In our May 2020 survey, consumers reported increases and decreases in the use of different types of financial services tools since the start of the pandemic. Although many consumers have since resumed daily activities, changes like decreased use of cash and checks and increased use of mobile tools have continued. 

Survey question to all respondents: Have you changed your usage of any of the following since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic?

Interest in some features holds steady

Although most people's daily lives have changed drastically in 2020, some interest in specific services and features have held steady since 2019. Real-time access to financial information remains "extremely" or "very important" to 78 percent of banking consumers. When asked about interest in a variety of financial tools, "security to safeguard mobile activity" topped the list – 77 percent are interested, up slightly from 73 percent in 2019.

Highlights of the key findings are available for download. 

About Expectations & Experiences

Conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Fiserv, Expectations & Experiences is one of the longest running surveys of its kind and builds on years of longitudinal consumer survey data. The survey provides insight into people's financial attitudes and needs, enabling organizations to design and drive adoption of services that improve consumer financial health, loyalty and satisfaction.

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