Paying for gas at the pump Paying at the pump. (Source: Shutterstock)

Most Americans worry about security when they pay with plastic at gas stations and convenience stores, but they may not be worried enough to start paying with mobile apps, according to a new study from electronic payments company ACI Worldwide.

The survey of about 1,300 adults found that 62% were concerned about the security of their financial data when paying at fuel pumps and convenience stores. More than half (52%) were worried about the privacy of their financial data.

However, only 7% of the respondents said they preferred to pay with a mobile app at gas stations and convenience stores.

“Skimming devices at gas pumps are frequently used to steal consumers’ financial data, hence the high level of concern with data security at gas pumps,” ACI Worldwide Merchant Solutions VP Benny Tadele said. “However, few consumers are aware that digital wallet payments are not only faster and easier, but they are generally more secure than traditional methods of payment.”

The study also found that, compared to younger generations, baby boomers were more concerned about the security of their data but were more satisfied with the payment experience at gas pumps.

Over half (55%) of all respondents preferred to pay with a debit or credit card at fuel and convenience stores; 21% preferred to pay with cash. People in the Northeast were more likely to prefer to pay with cash, but 64% of people in the Midwest, 56% of people in the West and 52% of people in the South preferred to pay with credit or debit cards, the study said. Overall, just 27% of respondents said they were very satisfied with the purchasing experience at fuel and convenience stores.

Finding a way to entice members to try mobile payments at least once could boost their adoption, the data suggested. Of the 10% who said they have used a mobile app, 83% were satisfied with the speed and convenience of the experience.

“As Gen Z continues to gain purchasing power, retailers and merchants need to consider offering digital wallet payments as an option or be left out,” Tadele said. “By addressing security through tokenization, point-to-point encryption and fraud prevention and detection tools, merchants are increasing consumers’ confidence in using these convenient channels of payment.”

The study also evaluated respondents’ grocery store payment habits. Notable findings included:

  • 60% of respondents shopped at stores that offer self-checkout or unmanned payment kiosks.
  • 39% of grocery shoppers said faster checkout and more checkout lanes or kiosk options would improve their shopping experience.
  • 19% of respondents shopped at stores that accepted digital wallet payments.
  • 18% shopped at stories that offered a mobile app or scanning option for checkout.
  • Most Americans (87%) shop in-store for groceries, but 14% ordered online with home delivery and 12% ordered online with in-store pickup.
  • 79% of millennials shop in-store, and 17% order online for in-store pickup.
  • 86% of Gen Xers shop in-store, and 13% order online for in-store pickup.
  • More millennials (43%) than Gen Xers (39%) and baby boomers (37%) desired a fast checkout/payment process.