Welcome to Klarna’s Money Management Pulse!
Technology has changed the way people manage their everyday personal finances. Checking your account balance is no longer a chore, and payments happen in the blink of an eye without any physical cash transactions. Yet some habits remain, and preferences shift heavily across generations and the globe.
In this report, you’ll find a pulse check on money management habits in a selection of countries around the world.
Insights from Klarna’s consumer research, conducted in cooperation with Nepa across 17 countries (the US, UK, Ireland, Australia, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Sweden, Norway, Finland, New Zealand, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain). The research is conducted quarterly and always includes a minimum of 1,000 respondents in each country.
In total, 17,218 consumers participated during Q1 2023 (January-March). The sample sizes are nationally representative, naturally including both Klarna users and non-Klarna users, and have been selected by research agency Nepa.
High interest in personal finances.
It’s a pattern seen across generations. However, Millennials express the highest interest—which correlates with their frequent interactions with financial services.
Millennials high interest for personal finances stands out.
The difference between Millennials and other generations is greater than the gender gap in all countries. As a matter of fact, across the 17 countries featured this report there’s only one where another generation expresses a higher interest.
have the highest overall interest in personal finances compared to younger and older generations.
has a bigger impact than age in many countries. Men express a higher interest in personal finances than women, and the gap is highest in the US. The only countries where women express a higher interest than men are Austria, Finland, and Norway.
Cash is no longer king.
Our increasingly digitized society also means preferences for payments in physical stores are evolving. In fact, only 2 out of the 17 countries covered in this report have a population preferring cash.
Innovation introduces new habits.
Gen Z’ers’ preference for digital devices like smartphones and smartwatches means neither hard cash or physical cards have a natural place in their pockets anymore. And with smartwatches on the rise, and biometrics on the horizon, much is likely to change in this space in the near future.
Physical cards growing old
The generation’s preference for physical cards grows bigger with age, while the preference for cash splits relatively evenly in comparison.
Digital overtaking cash
There’s a distinct generational differentiation between physical cards and digital devices like smartphones and smartwatches. Gen Z’ers have a higher preference for paying with smartphones or smartwatches than with cash in all countries, with just one exception.
Mobile phones > cash.
The smartphone revolution has enabled new and innovative means to pay, and digital means of payment have become preferred over cash on a global average.
12 out of 17
More people now prefer mobile phones over cash for in-store payments in the vast majority of countries featured in this report.
Contrasting payment preferences across countries.
The difference in payment preferences gets even clearer when the countries are placed next to each other in the index.
Cash remains royal in DACH
Germany and Austria stand out with a high preference for cash compared to the other countries. On the other side of the coin, consumers in Nordic countries seldom use cash and prefer physical payment cards to a much higher extent.
Cash in pocket.
How thick a shoppers’ wallet is varies across countries, and it’s clear that inflation and increased cost of living has had a significant impact on the amount of disposable cash during the past quarter—despite the fact that digital payments has continued to rise in popularity.
$189 is the average amount of cash in Americans’ wallets, the most out of any country. That’s twice the global average and 4 times the amount found in Swedish wallets.
Until alternative payment methods become universal, cash will still be relevant. And there will be a need to access funds before payment can be made.
Cash withdrawals are naturally more frequent in countries with a higher preference for cash. Still, they don’t scale with preferences—which may indicate unplanned withdrawals for consumers who would have preferred to pay otherwise.
Younger generations tend to withdraw cash more often despite preferring to pay with digital devices, indicating that availability is not meeting the demands.
The average American withdraws cash more than 3 times as often as the average Swede.
Digitalization is changing the way people bank.
All over the world, well-established banks are closing down their physical banking locations as consumers increasingly interact with their funds digitally. At the same time, neo-banks are challenging incumbents with a digital-first approach for specific banking services.
Innovation introduces new habits.
The smartphone revolution puts the bank office in your pocket, accessible at all times. Everyday financial services moved from physical offices to personal computers a long time ago, and in most countries they have continued to transition from computer browsers to mobile apps.
5 out of 5
It’s more common to use a mobile app for 5 of the most frequently recurring financial services.
Mobile banking on the rise.
New and innovative mobile apps are offered by both the established banks and the challengers. Meanwhile, consumers have become increasingly tech-savvy.
Mobile and tablet
usage for financial services is generally trending upwards worldwide. This is especially true for activities such as checking one’s account balance and money transfers. Meanwhile, the usage of computer browsers is trending downwards across the world.
Digital banking around the world.
Thanks to the increased availability of innovative digital solutions, higher tech-savviness, and raised interest in personal finance—the way people bank is changing. Still, the pace at which it’s all evolving varies across demographics.
Gen Z & Millennials
are mobile first, using apps and browsers on mobile devices, while Gen X and Baby Boomers more often use computers to access banking services.
Younger generations interact with banking services at a higher frequency.
Mobile banking increases accessibility to services, enabling less financially experienced consumers to retain better control over their money.
interact with financial services more often than others, across all activities measured.
use financial services more often, especially for transferring money, sorting expenses into categories, and managing their savings. The youngest Americans manage their savings twice as often as their peers in the Nordic countries.
Budgeting made simple.
Budgeting doesn’t have to be a headache. With the help of digital tools, consumers can easily take control of their finances, save money, and track expenses to keep their spending in check.
Younger generations are more likely to establish a budget before spending their income. This habit helps them achieve financial stability and avoid overspending, ultimately leading to a more secure financial future.
3 out of 4
Gen Z’ers and Millennials set a budget.
Keeping their spending in check.
The vast majority of consumers already use, or want to use, a mobile app to manage their spending. With easy access to budget tracking and expense monitoring, these apps are becoming an essential tool for those seeking financial control and stability.
The younger generations are three times as likely to already use a mobile app to help them manage their spending.
Budget-savvy consumers seek innovative services.
Consumers are eagerly embracing new solutions that help them take control of their finances. As more and more consumers prioritize financial control, the emergence of smart digital money management features is expected to revolutionize the way people approach saving, making it easier and more accessible than ever before.
Attitudes to savings.
When it comes to saving money, differences are not as evident in the share of income saved but in what people choose to do with that money. The most significant differences are found in attitudes around investing money to grow funds with the risk of seeing them decline. Here’s how consumers all over the world go about their savings and investments.
8 out of 10 save money.
Across all countries and generations, the vast majority of consumers are consistently saving money.
save money from their income in the wider global population. Gen Z’ers (88%) and Millennials (89%) are the most frugal generations.
is the average share of income saved. Gen Z’ers (16%) and Millennials (17%) allocate money for savings to the highest extent.
Save in a bank account. Or invest.
The attitudes towards utilizing various investments to grow savings or keep money in a bank account are shared across generations. But not across countries.
has a bigger impact than age, and men invest at a higher rate than women in all countries.
Country of residence
has an even bigger impact. The difference between the share of the population saving money in bank accounts and those investing is highest in the UK, Ireland, France, the Netherlands, and Poland.
Stocks, bonds—or cryptocurrency.
There are numerous ways to invest for those willing to do so, each with its potential upsides and risks.
are the most popular form of investment in every country except Germany, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Sweden, who instead prefer mutual funds and ETF’s.
Men are twice as likely to invest in cryptocurrencies than women.
Environmentally sustainable investments are in-demand.
Growing money—while promoting planet health. The majority has considered investing in companies with an environmentally sustainable profile.
1 in 3
consumers have actively chosen to invest in environmentally sustainable companies, and as many have considered it but not yet done so. Only a minority say that they choose the investment product that will yield the highest returns, regardless if they are sustainable or not.
Saving for a rainy day—or a sunny place.
The most common reasons for saving differ across generations, and depending on where you live.
Baby Boomers are more than twice as likely to be saving money for the purpose of having a buffer for unforeseen expenses compared to Gen Z’ers.
Gen Z’ers are instead primarily saving to afford a house or apartment as a primary residence. They are 6 times more likely to do that compared to Baby Boomers, 3 times compared to Gen X’ers and slightly more likely than Millennials, who represent the generational tipping point between primarily focusing on building a rainy day fund and entering the housing market.
A bright future.
People across the world are optimistic about their future financial outlook—and more people believe they will be in a better place in the near future.
Most have a positive outlook.
And it’s especially the young who believe their financial situation will be improved.
And that’s that.
Klarna’s Money Management Pulse insights are updated quarterly, so stay tuned for future updates.
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