A recent study indicates that Coronavirus (COVID-19) has impacted the U.S. in ways beyond health and wellness.
According to a Financial Literacy and Interpersonal Payment Behavior Survey published by P2P service Zelle®, distancing and life during lockdowns and quarantines have revealed some commonalities – and some disparities – across four different generations.
The online survey of 600 people (evenly divided among four age cohorts between 18 and 72) was conducted between May and October among people who have a smartphone and a checking account. The respondents were grouped into Gen Z (17-23), Millennials (24-39), Gen X (40-55) and Boomers (55-72).
A different way to bank
COVID-19 required the public to limit their time outside their homes and quarantine if needed. With little (or even no) time outside permitted to go to a bank, credit union or ATM, more people relied on online resources, including financial services and transactions. The Zelle survey indicates that since the crisis, nearly one-fifth of all respondents (including Boomers) reported either first-time adoption, or plans to adopt, P2P (peer-to-peer) payment services to pay roommates/rent, utility bills, buy groceries, or send and receive money, and 17% of respondents indicated they have either started using, or plan to start using, mobile deposit.
Not surprisingly, all age cohorts were concerned about their financial futures, spanning short-term and long-term finances and employment, but not equally. Boomers were less likely to be concerned than Gen Z, Millennials and Gen X about short-term finances or employment – possibly since many Boomers are retired and out of the workforce. However, Boomers’ retirement nest egg concerns led them to worry about their long-term finances more.
Concerns about financial scams cut across all age categories. Some 60% of all respondents reported concerns about being targeted by financial scams or fraud. This concern has continued to increase steadily throughout the COVID crisis, and increased significantly between August and September, as the crisis headed towards the six-month mark.
Although Boomers are a favored target of financial scamsters, the survey noted that Boomers are less inclined than any other age cohort to employ a common protection for online security: two-factor authentication. (With two-factor authentication, or 2FA, users must first enter their username and password, and then provide a second identifying piece of information before accessing their accounts – like a text message notification or email with a code to enter to authenticate they are in fact the true account owner.)
About 75% of each of the other age cohorts reported using this extra security feature to their online banking accounts, but only 59% of Boomers do, despite Boomers’ own reporting that they consider their generation to be the most financially literate.
What about you?
Using secure digital financial services tools is a smart way to avoid health risks from going tobank branch or ATM. P2P services like Zelle can also allow you to send money, split expenses and pay back roommates or family for utility bills, groceries and more – all from your smartphone.
If you fall among those not currently using two-factor authentication, that’s a good place to start. Zelle P2P payments are made through banks, which offer this more secure login method on their websites and mobile apps. You can also review all your online accounts and services and check if 2FA is available.